The Tk’emlups Indian Band is looking to the City of Kamloops to help it protect archeological sites spanning thousands of years of history along the river valley.
At a community-to-community forum held between the two governments this week, TIB Coun. Jeanette Jules said she’s concerned about developments in the Dallas area, which are taking place without archeological oversight from the band.
Jules said the area is home to nearly 70 known architectural sites, including an historic village which could be damaged by development.
The valley is also considered a “high potential” site in general, meaning it’s likely developers could turn up new archeological finds.
Jules said she wants the band and city to work together to let developers know about their responsibilities under provincial law and ensure the TIB is notified of projects in sensitive areas.
“It’s not that we want to stop people from doing things,” Jules said. “It’s that there are some areas and how can we work together to make sure these things are taken care of?”
Jules said there have been cases where the band has had to step in to stop work taking place on sensitive archeological sites, such as 5,000-year-old fish weirs.
But, it has not escalated to the level of other B.C. communities, where bands have gone to the province for stop work orders due to development on heritage sites.
“The city of Kelowna, the city of Victoria, Vancouver, in all of them there had to be major things that happened before they could come and talk to the First Nations people and I don’t think we should get to that point,” she said.
“I think we should sit together and say here is the thing we need to do. There are some additional costs of getting an archeological monitor on site, just to review and then having someone do an archeological assessment.”
While maps of known archeological sites exist, city of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said they are not made public due to concerns over looting.
The city does have copies and advises developers when their projects are close to heritage sites. But, he said high-potential sites have been a grey area for the city.
Jules said she thinks most people simply aren’t aware of the area’s archeological significance.
She suggested the city look to Prince George, which is creating an archeological risk framework tool to record First Nations heritage sites in the city so they can be preserved as future developments occur.
Mayor Peter Milobar said the city has already agreed to consult with the band on storm sewer projects and other public works, in case of historic value. He said he doesn’t see the request as an obstruction to local development.
“They’re just saying they want to make sure people are being respectful and getting the full historical protection we can,” he said.