Re: Massive bill not yet settled for Willows homeowner (News, March 23)
I have some sympathy for the Willows homeowner faced with a massive bill for archaeological work on her property.
While it is right that such work be mandated when construction is contemplated that can disturb items of First Nations heritage significance, it is wrong that the entire cost should fall upon the hapless homeowner.
The roots of this problem lie with successive colonial and provincial governments that allowed settlement on First Nations lands without the consent of the original property owners, people with 10,000 years or more of occupation behind them. Such governments chose to ignore a fundamental concept of their own British law, that those who first occupy lands are the owners.
Where title has not been extinguished, and that is arguably throughout the province in the absence of present-day treaties, it is clear that title still lies with First Nations. At the very least, and as a small step towards reconciliation, archaeological evidence must be protected by the present occupants.
As the province saw fit to allow illegal occupation of lands belonging to other people without their consent, it is only just that the government of the province bears the cost for this. I agree with Maureen Karagianis’s proposal in this regard.