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Laich-Kwil-Tach ancestors finally find peace

Laich-Kwil-Tach citizen Ollie Henderson places a traditional dish of food into the fire at Tyee Spit to give the spirits of the returned ancestors strength on their journey. - Mike Davies/The Mirror
Laich-Kwil-Tach citizen Ollie Henderson places a traditional dish of food into the fire at Tyee Spit to give the spirits of the returned ancestors strength on their journey.
— image credit: Mike Davies/The Mirror

Some citizens of the Laich-Kwil-Tach Nation have had a 2,000-year long journey to get back to their people, according to carbon dating.

On Thurday, members of the Nation transferred the remains of some of their ancestors to their rightful place beside their families in the Campbell River Indian Band’s cemetery near Discovery Marina. They had been retrieved from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the Royal BC Museum, which had been studying them.

“It’s been a good journey to get them back where they belong,” said Olie Henderson, member of the band who was attending his second such event. “I have very good feelings today about having our ancestors back.”

According to Deidre Cullon, an archaeologist who works with the band and helped facilitate the return of the remains, “Over the last couple of decades, museums and universities have been very proactive in returning remains to their people.”

It’s far from a regular occurrence, however.

“These are very special occasions,” said Laich-Kwil-Tach citizen Rod Naknakim.

“We’ve been at this several years, and I’m very grateful to have them returned.”

Once the remains were transferred to their rightful resting places, the ceremony moved to the nearby beach, where citizens fed the spirits of the ancestors by placing traditional Laich-Kwil-Tach food into the fire to give them strength for their journey.

They turn from the fire after the food has been placed, “or else they won’t eat,” according to Henderson.

“It went quick, so they were obviously hungry.”

“I guess a 2,000-year journey will do that.”

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