Monday, November 12, 2007
The search is on
WOODSTOCK - The city has asked archeologists to proceed with further study on a portion of Burgess Park where First Nations artifacts were found.
Community services director Bob McFarland confirmed Thursday the city has asked Archeologix Inc. to proceed with a phase three study of one area of the park where archeologists found Kettle Point chert during their completed work there last year. The work will be paid by the city, which differs from usual procedure where the developer would pick up the cost of this required work.
"Since we don’t anticipate anything happening in the immediate future…we’ve asked (them) to go ahead and do the work," McFarland said. "If they find anything else within a couple of feet, it may require another level of study."
A stage-three assessment would involve a hand excavation of a series of one-metre deep test pits strategically located to sample the areas where the chert was found. McFarland said the archeologists may not be able to get to the task until next year, given their workload and the wet conditions at the site right now.
The prospect worries Green Earth Campaign’s Bryan Smith, who cautions that any further excavation should not proceed until the First Nations people who brought the possibility of a burial ground on the site to his attention are consulted.
Smith said based on the information that has been shared with him, the site that Archeologix has been asked to study could be in proximity to the potential burial site he has been taken to.
"I would question what they are actually digging into and whether they’re actually desecrating a grave site," Smith said. "If exploration were to be done, I would hope it would be respectfully and carefully."
McFarland said he has e-mailed Smith and his fellow Green Earth executive asking for more information on the location of the site, but has not received a response. Smith spoke to McFarland’s request, and said there could be an opportunity to determine whether the site to be studied by Archeologix is the same one.
Tracing the history of the land is complex, given the Burgess family is aware of the existence of burial grounds on their former homestead, but that information appears to have remained out of the public record.
Smith said the First Nations oral history is an even greater complexity, given the Ouendat people were forced from this part of the continent by other First Nations in the earliest days of European contact. As a result, the oral history of this particular area for the Ouendat is known by very few remaining descendents.
A spokesperson for the Ministries of Culture and Tourism said that the ministry is aware of the claim of a burial ground on the site, but has not received the Archeologix report presented to council it is not yet complete.
"There is no indication in any of our records of a First Nation burial ground at that site," Guy Lepage said. "No one has ever said there was one in that area."