Back in 2014, I wrote about the Lost Cemeteries in New Westminister —
Well after a number of years of fighting, they have finally set a date for the reconstruction of the High School in 2017.
And while they say that the school will not be built on any of the cemeteries, there are still people that are opposed to the new building on the land. The New Westminster Indian Band and Chinese Benevolent Society of Vancouver seem to support the project, there are other groups like the B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs and Reconciliation for Canadians say they’re opposed.
The spokesman for the Reconciliation for Canada has stated “The public needs to understand that what they’re talking about is the desecration of a commissioned cemetery” There are apparently at least 33 families that have a stake in the cemetery and they have not been spoken with.
These were cemeteries for people of colour, that that these were commissioned cemeteries in the late 19th century.
There are no records that these cemeteries were ever decommissioned, but there is an application in 2009 to have the New Westminster School site deemed a Heritage Designation but as of this date, there has been nothing done.
The Government announcement stated:
The existing school was built on land formerly used as a burial ground, public works yard and staging area for the military during the Second World War. The new school building will be located on portions of the site outside the burial areas. All work within the designated heritage areas will be monitored by an archeologist to ensure the heritage requirements are met and any historic artifacts are appropriately recorded.
It will be interesting to watch as going forward this rich history that, for lack of a better word, has been buried since the school was originally built in 1949.
Hopefully soon, all those buried there will finally get to rest in peace.