Buried ancestors disrespected: Jacks

Tseycum band members are working to protect seaside burial site

Vern Jacks

Vern Jacks

The anger Vern Jacks feels is that of his ancestors when he recalls the heavy trucks parked on their grave site.

“I feel sad about what has happened,” he said.

Earlier this month, the former Tseycum chief looked out from his home on West Saanich Road to see machinery parked on a patch of gravel next to the fenced off area where a ceremony was held to honour the dead buried there.

“I said, ‘You’re on top of our grave yard.’ They’re showing disrespect. [But] it fell on deaf ears.”

The truck was parked next to West Saanich Road for four or five days as staff from Tseycum First Nation completed phase one of a project to restore the eroded shore of Patricia Bay.

“The culverts that are there now are collapsing,” explained Joe Bill, a Tseycum councillor.

Work on the shore has been underway for about a year. Eight years ago, the seawall was built up when bones from the same burial site became exposed. Erosion worsened then, prompting the new round of restoration.

“Our goal is to protect the beach because in turn, it will protect our grave site,” said Tseycum chief Tanya Jones. “We have to make this sacrifice now.”

The Tseycum council acknowledges the gravel patch sits over the burial site of their ancestors. The First Nation has plans to fence the area when restoration is complete.

Jacks hopes this is the case.

“That is a grave site. We’ve got to put a fence around it.”