A ceremony was held on Tuesday, July 2, to honour the dead at the West Victoria Street site where ancestral human remains were discovered last week.
About a dozen people from the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, four people from the City of Kamloops and contractors were on hand for the private gathering.
“I really appreciated being a part of it and having that offer extended to us,” city capital projects manager Darren Crundwell said.
The remains were discovered on June 26 by construction crews working in the area. Work immediately stopped and RCMP officers, Tk’emlups representatives and Golder Associates employees attended the scene as part of archeological protocol for the project.
A coroner and archeologist determined the remains to be “non-modern,” predating European settlement in the area. West Victoria Street is among the oldest areas in the city.
The remains are still on site and Crundwell said an anthropologist is coming from Vancouver to work with archeologists to exhume the remains on Thursday and Friday. Anthropologists study humans with past and present societies. It is not known if additional remains could be in the area of the $13-million West Victoria Street reconstruction project, which involves digging down and replacing subterranean infrastructure. Professionals will sift through the soils.
Since the project began in April, glass bottles and a portion of a tool have been discovered, but June 26 was the first time human remains were found.
“If there is more, we’ll just keep working with Golder and Tk’emlups to make sure we’re doing the right thing on site,” Crundwell said.
Once exhumed, the remains will be given to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. KTW reached out to TTS but did not hear back. However, in the past, remains given to TTS have been repatriated and buried on the reserve.
Meanwhile, crews were back to work on Tuesday after taking the Canada Day long weekend off.
“We just skipped ahead right now,” Crundwell said. “We’re working in front and behind. If we couldn’t deal with that area for weeks and months, yeah, it would eventually impact things. Thankfully, it was in an area where we just skipped over that. Then, once that site is cleared by Tk’emlups and the archeologist, we’ll go back and finish what we need to do in that area.”