Members of the Qualicum First Nation received a rude awakening on Friday when they discovered a sacred place had been vandalized with racist graffiti.
“Very heartbroken, in shock, totally shocked someone would do such a thing,” is how Tanna Weir described seeing the Qualicum First Nation graveyard desecrated.
The Qualicum First Nation councillor took to Facebook to plead for information.
“It is with great sadness we are asking for help. Qualicum First Nation grave yard was vandalized. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP,” she wrote.
“A face plate off one of our loved ones’ final resting place was stolen, it was mounted on a piece of granite. We would very much like the face plate returned to its proper place. Please share.”
The First Nation believes the vandalism happened after Halloween on Oct. 31 but the exact date is unclear. The cemetery sits off a main road and is only accessible via a walking trail.
A racist slur was spray painted on one gravestone and the face plate for the only person buried on the 24-person grave site was missing. The brass face plate had been mounted onto the granite of the gravestone before it was removed – and Weir is hoping it will turn up.
“It’s sentimental value as well.”
The suspects also damaged the graveyard, breaking a concrete bench and pulling out an in-ground sprinkler system. Battery packs connected to the sprinkler system were ripped out and the heads kicked off of sprinklers.
Weir estimates it will cost thousands of dollars to fix the damage, and doesn’t believe the culprits are from the area as “locals just don’t do this stuff.”
“We are a very tight-knit community. Everybody’s always there for each other,” she said.
On Sat. Nov. 10, the gravestone was cleaned up and the racist graffiti removed after an outpouring of support and offers of help from the community.
“It lightens the load a bit. It doesn’t really feel like it’s such a heavy burden when you’re not carrying it by yourself,” said Weir.