– Information Update- What's going on and why
The Cemetery on Galiano is held by the Diocese of British Columbia of the Anglican Church of Canada. It is administered and managed by St. Margaret of Scotland Anglican Church with the advice of a Cemetery Committee. The Cemetery Committee is comprised of Sarah Tweedale, Phillip Grehan, Rosemary Georgeson, Jeannine Georgeson, Diane Cragg, and Helen Russell. Management and operation of Cemeteries in BC is regulated by the Interment, Cremation and Funerals Act of BC, and guided by the Canons of the Anglican Diocese of BC. In addition to the legal regulations under which the cemetery is licensed and operates, we (the Cemetery Committee) are committed to working toward practical expressions of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Settlers.
Interments have been suspended while we await the necessary permits to disturb the ground. The Cemetery land in Georgeson Bay was given to the Anglican Church by the family of Henry “Scotty” Georgeson in 1928. But that is not the beginning of the history of the land. The cemetery land is a site with history going back thousands of years, as Indigenous peoples lived, celebrated, and committed their dead. The Cemetery land is significant for Indigenous peoples all around the Salish Sea, and has been identified and protected by the BC Heritage Conservation Act (1996).
We are waiting for some archaeological work to clarify areas of the Cemetery land that may be available for interment. Before the archaeological work can be done, Permits must be obtained from the BC Archaeology branch, and then the investigation can proceed. We are currently waiting for those Permits to be granted. The investigation of the Cemetery land will proceed with Ground Penetrating Radar to glean what information can be obtained by that method, including possible burial sites in areas that are not clearly marked and therefore should not be disturbed, and other possible soil disturbances that might indicate historic activity. In addition to this, some subsurface tests may offer clarity on the significance and historic activity of the site.
When the archaeological work is complete, we may know if and where we can continue with some interments and memorials. This may mean that, because space is limited, we shift our expectations and practise around how we inter remains, what memorials are installed, and even discussion of the acquisition of additional memorial land.
We know that it is important for all of us in the Galiano community to care for one another by ensuring there is a place to remember those who have died. This is a precious and vital part of our community life. It is also important that we work towards the resolution of this difficult delay and adjustment to what has been our practise, with respect for all those who have gone before us, those who are memorialized in the Cemetery, and those whose histories go far beyond our current recollection, who have inhabited and been remembered in this Cemetery land for thousands of years before any settlers arrived. We will continue to work together to resolve how we as the Galiano community provide place and ways for us to remember our members and those who were here long before us. We will provide more information as the process unfolds and as we obtain new information. Thank you for your patience as we continue to seek the best way ahead for all. -
Submitted by Rev’d Sarah Tweedale and the Cemetery Committee