The provincial NDP have introduced legislation aimed at increasing the protection and preservation of First Nations heritage sites and objects.

Amendments to the First Nations Heritage Protection and Conservation Act would see the creation of a process by which First Nations can request a temporary protection order when people find a heritage site, object or remains.

The amendments would also create a First Nations Heritage Protection Program which would provide funding to local governments so that they could protect sacred sites in their communities.

Maurine Karagianis, NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads noted that the bill could be put to immediate use to help the Penelakut First Nation protect burial sites on Grace Islet, which is being developed without adequate archaeological and First Nations monitoring.

MLA Gary Holman, whose constituency includes Grace Islet, agreed.

“New Democrats have called on the B.C. Liberal government to intervene immediately to protect the sacred sites of the Penelakut First Nation, including the burial sites on Grace Islet. The current laws do not do enough to ensure that these irreplaceable places are not destroyed forever,” said Holman, who also asked the B.C. Liberal government to step in and protect the burial sites in the legislature Monday.

Karagianis first introduced this bill in 2009, and said “we’ve seen no such commitment to better protections” in that time.