UBC and Stó:lō community members will celebrate the return of eleven ancestral remains from UBC’s Laboratory of Archaeology (LOA) on October 19, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. at the Stó:lō Resource Centre, 10 – 7201 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, BC. This repatriation represents a milestone in the Journey Home Project undertaken in collaboration amongst UBC LOA, Stó:lō Nation, Stó:lō Tribal Council, Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre, and Sts’ailes First Nation.
Discussions and planning for this event began in 2006 when Sue Rowley, current Director of LOA, initiated the project by asking Stó:lō representatives if their communities had an interest in the return of ancestral remains which had ended up in LOA’s care, some since the 1950s.
LOA was a prior repository for the ‘found archaeological human remains.’ The locations of the recovered remains from the central Fraser Valley, including the Abbotsford-Sumas area, Chilliwack, and Agassiz, triggered the involvement of the Stó:lō. The Stó:lō House of Respect Care-taking Committee, a group of Stó:lō elders, cultural advisors and staff, formed to facilitate repatriation cases and issues on behalf of the Stó:lō community, played a lead role in the planning.
On October 19, vibrant Stó:lō songs will mark an important part of the physical return of the ancestors’ remains. Additional scientific analyses, continuing to be overseen by the Stó:lō Committee, will be carried out following their return home. Biographies of each of the eleven individuals and a set of community guidelines for the treatment of ancestral human remains are to be produced as outcomes of the collaboration between UBC LOA and the Stó:lō Committee.