Saskatchewan farmers force rural municipality to stop construction where First Nation artifacts found

The Rural Municipality of Winslow was forced to put construction of a road running through a farm on hold while a site where First Nation artifacts were found is examined.

Mitzie Gilroy owns the farm with her husband Jim.

She said it was important to stop the road construction and save the artifacts.

“Something 10,000 years old has to be important doesn’t it? I don’t know how big the site is and I think further work has to be done out there to decide that,” she said.

“Even if it’s just a small area it should be protected. It’s part of everyone’s history.”

Originally, Winslow had hired an independent firm to study the artifacts that were found in the initial study of the land.

That was last year, yet road construction still started a few weeks ago in May.

So the Gilroys decided something had to be done to preserve the artifacts.

(The portion on the Gilroy farm where the artifacts were discovered. Photo: Priscilla Wolf/APTN)

They contacted local First Nations leaders to notify them about the find.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.

Chiefs were fast acting to reach out to the media to get the message out to help stop the road construction and preserve the artifacts.

The First Nations leaders met with the Gilroys at the site and held a ceremony and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to preserve the artifacts and stop the road from being built and make the area a heritage site.

“The MOU it symbolizes that they’re non-First Nations farmers and land owners that respect first nations treaty rights that respect first nations tradition and culture and the Gilroy family is one of them,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

(An MOU was signed to ensure the safety of the artifacts that were found on the Gilroy farm. Photo: Priscilla Wolf/APTN)

Under current Legislation in Saskatchewan-the finding of artifacts doesn’t require consultation with First Nations.

Cameron said he wants to see that legislation change.

“If need be we will set up camp up and down that road to ensure construction stops and we’ve agreed they supported it,” said Cameron. “We will see in 30 days.

“It’s our understanding that the RM (regional municipality) has halted the construction for 30 days we’ll see what happens and if they move forward you can expect camps you can expect tipi’s set up on these lands to protect our sacred sites.

The construction is on hold until July.



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