Musqueam to protest at Marpole Midden to mark 100 days vigil at ancient site
August 9, 2012
Members of an urban Vancouver aboriginal band say they’re stepping up their protest to protect a mound of ancient refuse left behind from an aboriginal village nearly 3,000 years ago that, despite its designation as a national heritage site, is at risk of being built over — again.
Members of the Musqueam First Nation say they will block traffic to protest against construction on the Marpole Midden, even though B.C.’s aboriginal relations minister says a cash-for-land deal is close.
Mary Polak said Thursday the money offered to the Musqueam should be more than enough for the band to purchase the midden land from the owner who wants to develop the property.
In June, the province paid the Musqueam $4.8 million in compensation for one of three pieces of land that are part of major projects such as a new transit line.
Polak says the government will offer another $12 million for the remaining two pieces of land, and the money should exceed the midden owner’s asking price.
But the band, whose members have been protesting against construction on the site ever since human remains were unearthed earlier this year, says the province’s cash offer is money owed to the First Nation anyway.
“That’s our money, that’s for other deals that have nothing to do with this, and we are choosing to redirect that money to buy back that land (on Marpole Midden),” band member Rhiannon Bennett told reporters on Thursday.
“That is not money they are providing for us out of the goodness of their heart so we can buy the land back.”
The band had originally wanted to do a land swap to protect the Marpole Midden, but the deal was not signed off.
The band also says it wants construction work on the site to stop completely.