Investigation digs up more remains

Consultation continues with area First Nations bands following the discovery of more remains in a Vernon orchard.

After a skull was found April 1 by a man doing excavation work at the orchard, in the 6000 block of Pleasant Valley Road, remains of parts of three other bodies were found.

“The three sets were obviously burials, and that area of the orchard has been cordoned off,” said archaeologist Eric Forgeng with the B.C. archaeology branch of the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations.

“The three were found in flex burials, that is their knees were drawn up to their chests and buried on their side which is typical of ancient First Nations burial practises.”

The property owner had been planning on putting in cherry trees when the original skull was first discovered.

After the other remains were found, archaeologists deemed the site to be an ancient burial ground and began consulting with Okanagan and Shuswap bands in regards to the remains.

Forgeng estimates the remains were found in a 100-metre radius on the side of the 300-acre property.

He said the owner has hired an archaeological consultant to start doing an impact assessment on the property to determine how large the burial site is.

That process requires a permit through Forgeng’s office, which takes a month to process. As of now, Forgeng said no application has been brought forward.

“We’re trying to figure out where the boundaries of the site are and how many remains are there,” he said. “Options for managing the remains will be done in consultation with First Nations, and hopefully we get a consensus with everyone and the property owner.”

Forgeng said five First Nations have contacted his office with respect to the remains, including the Okanagan Indian Band and Splats’in First Nation.

The property owner, said Forgeng, is continuing with cherry tree and irrigation installation on his property, but not in the area cordoned off where the remains were found.