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Was indigenous burial site desecrated on Allandale Station land?

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In Barrie
Aug 16th, 2017
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Keith Doxsee

Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples demands inquiry

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Barrie’s Allandale Station land needs a public inquiry, or a criminal investigation, to determine if an Indigenous burial site was desecrated, says a governor with the Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples.

Keith Doxsee has sent this request to Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“They’ve got a building on top of a cemetery, and they’ve got bones in a cement foundation. They’ve never properly cleared it,” Doxsee said of the Allandale Station property, which the city owns. “If it was your grandmother, how would you feel about it?

“There’s so much evidence of human remains and other archaeological remains on this site.”

The City of Barrie has commissioned an independent archeological review of the Allandale Station property, located at Lakeshore Drive and Tiffin Street, to help determine its status. The review is not yet complete.

“No work will happen on the site until all archaeology work is complete,” Lehman said. “If anything of historical significance is found, the city will consult with all applicable First Nations to determine an appropriate path forward.

“The City of Barrie continues to follow the archaeological processes, applicable legislation and any direction provided by the province of Ontario to ensure protection of the archaeological potential of the site,” Lehman said. “The city has been and remains committed to engaging with the appropriate First Nations parties throughout this process.”

Doxsee said Wednesday he prefers a public inquiry instead of a criminal investigation on this matter, but one could lead to the other.

“I think a public inquiry would be probably preferable, and then if there’s information that came out of the inquiry that suggested there was a (criminal ) offence committed, police will investigate at that point,” he said.

“The section of the Criminal Code that has potential application has to do with whether the site was desecrated. Again, a police investigator would have to look at that to determine whether there’s evidence or not.

“We don’t know if there was an offence committed. You can’t say that.”

Doxsee said he has not gone to police and asked them to look specifically at the Allandale Station site.

He said the advantage of an inquiry is expert opinions, all information is disclosed and people can be questioned.

And there’s no good reason not to hold one.

“If they say these Indigenous sites have some value, both to the community, to Indigenous people and to the general public, which seems to be the government’s position, then why would they not want to look at this fully,” Doxsee said. “Why would you not.”

Doxsee says the Allandale Station land “is an extremely important archaeological site with burials and bone pieces dating back over 3,000 years.”

He said this has been ignored by Barrie’s elected officials and its staff.

Doxsee has asked to make a presentation to Barrie city council.

“To impress upon council the magnitude of the complete disregard for Indigenous culture,” he says in the letter to Lehman. “Further, to indicate how important is is for any future decision making to be made with consultation with all Indigenous representatives, including (the Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples).”

Brown, Simcoe North MPP and a former Barrie MPP and Barrie city councillor, responded to Doxsee’s request on Wednesday.

He sent Doxsee’s letter to Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, the Tory critic for Indigenous relations and reconciliation, who forwarded it to Steven Del Duca, Ontario’s minister of transportation, asking him to respond.

Wynne’s office told the Examiner Wednesday it had sent Doxsee’s letter to Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport.

A large portion of the Allandale Station land was the subject of a standard archeological assessment in 2000-2001, including an excavation. City officials said it was OK’d by the Ontario Ministry of Culture.

Another assessment in 2009 indicated the property might contain further archeologically significant artifacts. Historian Andrew Hunter had documented in 1907, and the city was aware of, a large burial of bones, several smaller ones and that burial sites had been discovered within the property in the 1800s.

During restoration of the Allandale Station buildings in July 2011, human remains were discovered in a crawl space. An archeological assessment took place. It concluded no archeological resources of potential heritage value or interest were found and there was no evidence of a formal grave or intentional burial.

In June 2015, the Huron-Wendat First Nation’s band council adopted a resolution to establish a clear position regarding the protection and preservation of its ancestral heritage.

Huron Wendat Grand Chief Konrad Sioui was not available for comment Wednesday, the Examiner was told by his office.

This entire parcel of land includes Allandale Waterfront GO Station, the restored Allandale Station and city property slated for redevelopment, but also the subject of a stalled, multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

It claims breach of contract and bad faith bargaining on the city’s part in failed development talks. None of the allegations have been proven or tested in court.

Doxsee told the Examiner Wednesday that he was aware of the lawsuit.

The Ontario Coalition of Indigneous Peoples says it represents the rights and interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians living off-reserve in Ontario. It is an affiliate of the Indigenous Peoples’ Assembly of Canada, formerly known as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and previously as the Native Council of Canada.

Doxsee says his coalition represents about 73% of Ontario’s Indigenous population.

Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Area 7, which Doxsee represents, takes in Simcoe County and Barrie.

CITY HAS WORKED WITH HURON WENDAT, WILLIAMS TREATY FIRST NATIONS

Barrie has not been slow to react to Indigenous concerns about its Allandale station land, says Mayor Jeff Lehman.

“As soon as concerns were raised about the archaeology at Allandale, I picked up the phone to the Chief of the Rama First Nation and spoke with him, then I travelled to Quebec to meet with the Grand Chief of the Huron Wendat,” he said.

Since that time, Lehman says the city has worked with both Huron Wendat and the Williams Treaty First Nations representatives, as well as the relevant ministries of the Ontario government, including the Registrar of Cemetaries, to complete additional archaeology on the site.

In late 2016, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued by the city to retain an independent archaeologist to conduct a new study, separate from any previous study on this site. This RFP was issued in collaboration with the Huron-Wendat and Williams Treaty First Nations.

In January 2017, the city awarded the contract to AECOM to complete a full archaeology assessment of the Allandale Train Station site, including stage 1, 2 and 3 studies. Pending results of the studies, a stage 4 assessment will be conducted.

Lehman said the stage 1 assessment has been received by the city in draft form and is under review. The stage 2 assessment started in the beginning of May.

“This stage includes hand-digging 275 test pits on the site. Through this stage, the archaeologist identified focus areas to continue into the stage 3 assessment. The stage 3 assessment has been completed and the city is awaiting the report,” he said.

Representative from both Huron-Wendat and Williams Treaties First Nations were invited to monitor each stage of the site excavation, Lehman said.

In addition, the city has retained Dr. Gary Warrick as an independent consultant to conduct a peer review of the archeology results and findings.

“The City of Barrie has followed all standards and guidelines on archaeology investigations and consulted the Registrar of Cemeteries, Ontario Heritage Trust and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” Lehman said.

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