BY BILL PHILLIPS
When construction began on a new pavilion in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, the city suspected that artifacts and/or remains might be unearthed.
Part of what is now the park had been the site of a Lheidli T’enneh village near the Hudson’s Bay Company fort, established in the 1820s, and the Lheidli T’enneh burial ground, which had originally been adjacent to the village, is still actively used by the Lheidli T’enneh so the possibility of unearthing remains was there.
Construction was halted earlier this summer when bones were discovered at the pavilion site. An archaeological dig unearthed the remains of 11 humans along with other artifacts.
“The next step is to work together to place the remains somewhere and place something up,” said Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick. “The remains should be somewhere and protected, not just put in the museum. We have to show some respect for the ancestors.”
The remains are currently being kept at The Exploration Place. The city will work with the Lheidli T’enneh to find a permanent resting place for the remains, likely somewhere within the park.
“Our primary focus now is to take a look at where a natural resting place may be for those remains,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “It’s important to respect those remains that have been found.”
Hall said they may look at some sort of mausoleum for the remains. Frederick said it would be “proper” to have the final resting place somewhere within the park, likely within the existing cemetery.
“We’d like them to not dig any more, or build, in the park,” said Frederick. “The more you dig, the more you’re going to find.”
The city and the Lheidli T’enneh developed the idea of a pavilion in the park that would be an expression of the partnership between the two governments. Along with the new permanent Lheidli T’enneh exhibition at The Exploration Place, the pavilion will be provide public education regarding the history of the Lheidli T’enneh. Public art to be displayed within the pavilion will depict Lheidli T’enneh culture, language, and history.
Viking Construction of Prince George is building the pavilion. The concrete pout for the main structure columns is happening today and other elements will be installed over the summer. Complete is expected later this fall. The budget for the pavilion is $809,000.