August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, February 21, 2010

OLYMPICS: Coast Salish blockade bridge where ancestors were desecrated

Blockade Golden Ears Bridge
Anti-2010 Olympics Convergence, Coast Salish Territories, (Vancouver, B.C.)


As part of the Anti-Olympics Convergence in Vancouver B.C., members of Coast Salish Katzie First Nation and supporters blocked the Golden Ears Bridge.

The Bridge spans the Frazer River between Pitt Meadows and Langley, and is adjacent to Katzie 1 and Katzie 2 Reserves. It is about a half hour drive outside of Vancouver.

The bridge opened on June 16, 2009. It is owned by Translink, who say, “It will have major long-term impacts on the region, improving travel times and promoting economic activity.” It is clearly disregarding the negative impacts on Indigenous people.

Construction of the bridge desecrated a 3,000 year old burial ground. Its massive pilings in the river disrupt currents, and the ability of local Katzie fishers to fish. Situated at the mouth of the Frazer River, the bridge effects already threatened habitat for Salmon and Indigenous fishing communities all up the Fraser River.

Statement by a participant in the action:

“My people have been told when to fish and how big our net can be since our book of rules (Indian act) in 1896. My family has been arrested for fishing when they were not allowed.”

“The bridge affects my family in many ways. For thousands of years my family has been fishing on the Fraser River. The exact same spot where they built the Golden Ears Bridge is where my father, my grandfather and so on, is where we were taught to fish. The exact same spot we have been fishing is where there is a 6 lane bridge.”

“That bridge has caused hurt and pain with me and my family. The bridge is built on my peoples sacred burial grounds. That bridge has destroyed the river far beyond Katzie’s boundaries. Because of the bridge I’m forced to change my teachings and ways of fishing. That bridge has destroyed the natural path for the salmon to continue up the river for indigenous people to eat to survive. Dredging gravel out of the river to build bridges and highways for the Olympics is destroying the delicate ecosystem and putting declining fish stocks at further risk.”

These people worked on the site where the bridge is now built. They asked to be anonymous because they would lose their jobs:

“We dug up history of our ancestors - human remains, arrow heads and beads. They gave us a choice: Either we dig up our peoples history or they were going to send non-native people to do it. We were forced and no options from our community!”

~Anonymous hired archaeologist worker.

After the remains were found, members of Katzie First Nations people were paid to build tiny coffins and bury the bones where they were found. Many of the workers thought this meant they wouldn’t build the bridge at that spot.

“So many bones were found, in fetal position, and scattered bones were found These are my people; these bones are my grandfathers and grandmothers. After we had a ceremony to bury the bones in small coffins we made, they went ahead and built the bridge anyway right over top of our sacred burial ground.”

~Anonymous Katzie First Nations worker.

For more info on Anti-2010 Olympics see:
"My heart goes out to the Coast Salish Katzie First Nation who has to endure this outrageous act of man. I know how hurt you feel to have to rebury your ancestors because my people (Sinixt Arrow Lakes Nation) have been doing this since the mid-1980s in British Columbia. I pray the Creator blesses you generously."

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