Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage

Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage. Grace Islet Facebook Page

In 2014, a long-standing conflict over Grace Islet, a well-documented Coast Salish burial islet on the south coast of British Columbia, reached a boiling point as the landowner began construction of a private residence on this important cultural site. 

Following protests by First Nations, scholars, and members of the public, construction was halted and the province of British Columbia eventually purchased Grace Islet from the private landowner.

IPinCH believes that the critical issue in the Grace Islet case was the absence of respect for First Nations laws, values, and practices relating to burial sites and ancestral remains, and the need for descendant communities to have a say in how their ancestral sites are managed and protected. Grace Islet is one of many such cases in British Columbia, and around the world, that demonstrate the limited legal protections available to protect important Indigenous sites. 

This research theme explores current challenges in protecting Indigenous ancestral burial sites and considers new approaches to meet the needs of all parties.

Community Initiatives
Isobell Campbell looking at artefacts excavated from the Ngaut Ngaut site.

The Ngaut Ngaut rock shelter was the first “scientifically” excavated site in Australia in 1929, but it has much deeper meanings for local Indigenous people. 

The project team visits Petroglyphs Provincial Park, near Peterborough, Ontario

For the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, ezhibiigaadek asin is a sacred place. Teachings from their Anishinabe ancestors are embedded in this rock art site that holds over 100 petroglyphs. 

Database team with trainee students at Te Whaanga lagoon

The Moriori case study is located on Rekohu (Chatham Islands, New Zealand). It focuses on the development and implementation of a multi-layer research programme that ties together work on Moriori identity, indigenous cultural heritage management and protection and resource management.

Posted May 26, 2015

Vancouver, B.C. 

We are archaeologists, lawyers, anthropologists, ethnobiologists, ethicists, indigenous community members, students, educators, writers, human rights specialists and scholars of cultural heritage who came together in a focus session on indigenous ancestral burial grounds that was organized as part of an international gathering convened by the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project that took place November 7-9, 2014 on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam Nation, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

SFU Aboriginal Lecture Series
George Nicholas
Intangible Heritage and Intellectual Property Considerations of Sacred Places and Secret Knowledge
Ritual Places and Spaces Workshop, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC)
George Nicholas
Videos & Podcasts
Pragmatism at the Intersection of Indigeneity, Cultural Property, and Intangible
George Nicholas

When descendant groups are denied direct and meaningful engagement in decision making, heritage management policies are ineffective at best and harmful at worst. 

Rosita Worl
Rosita Worl
In this talk, Rosita Worl explores how the Sealaska Heritage Institute —the regional corporation for the Tlingit and Haida of Southeast Alaska— integrates core cultural values into their initiatives and programs. 

Isobelle Campbell & Amy Roberts

Erin Hogg, IPinCH fellow and PhD student at SFU, chats with Isobelle Campbell, Chair of the Mannum Aboriginal Community Association, and Amy Roberts, Senior Lecturer at Flinders University, about their IPinCH-supported project in South Australia. 

Larry Zimmerman
Larry Zimmerman
In this talk, Larry Zimmerman discusses how heritage industry rhetoric impedes the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage.

Dave Schaepe (Photo: Cornelia Naylor, Vancouver Sun)

In this lecture, Dave Schaepe discusses archaeological and heritage landscape management in B.C., drawing on his experience working closely with the Stó:lo Nation in Chilliwack.

Amy Roberts and Isobelle Campbell
Amy Roberts and Isobelle Campbell

Amy Roberts and Isobelle Campbell presenting on the Ngaut Ngaut Interpretive Project at the IPinCH Midterm Conference, Sept 30th - Oct 1st 2011. 

Maui Solomon & Susan Thorpe

Maui Solomon and Susan Thorpe, of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, present on the last six years of the IPinCH case study to record and protect Moriori cultural heritage on Rekohu (Chatham Islands, New Zealand). 

Susan Thorpe

Susan Thorpe, of the Hokotehi Moriori Trust, speaks about a cultural landscape approach developed for archaeological recording on Rekohu (Chatham Islands). 

Maui Solomon

Maui Solomon presenting on the Moriori Cultural Database project, at the IPinCH Midterm Conference, Sept 30th - Oct 1st 2011. 

Press Releases

Twenty-eight experts, including several at Simon Fraser University, are calling on Canadian governments nationally to strengthen their accountability for First Nations sacred sites and develop effective ways of involving First Nations in stewarding these sites. 

Media Coverage