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Park is more than a rock pile

Burial Cairn Project VM
Darcy Mathews leads a Camosun College archeology field assistant class on a project involving burial cairns in Uplands Park. Mathews speaks about his experiences later this month.

First Nations funeral practices and the use of rock cairns to mark burial spots in Upland Park are the topics of an upcoming talk by archeologist and Camosun College instructor Darcy Mathews.

With the help of 12 students, Mathews spent three weekends last May mapping cairns in the park. The area is a well-known, but not well-documented pre-contact First Nations cemetery dating back about 1,500 years.

Mathews obtained permission to undertake the project from the Songhees band, whose people are descendants of residents of the Chekonein village located at Willows Beach until the mid-1800s.

B.C.’s archeology branch, Oak Bay parks and environmental groups also gave the green light for the study.

The discussion happens Thursday, Feb. 24 at Windsor Park Pavilion, 2451 Windsor Rd.

The talk and discussion hosted by Friends of Uplands Park, begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by refreshments.