Lyackson First Nation skeleton stolen from burial site on Valdes

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, October 11 2016

The Gabriola Island RCMP are investigating the theft of a 150-year-old skeleton from a Lyackson First Nation burial site located on Valdes Island.

Cpl. Nathan Dame with Gabriola RCMP said police had received a report of damage to wooden burial boxes and the theft of a full skeleton from the boxes.

One of the sites disturbed on Valdes Island. Photos courtesy Gary Droillard, Lyackson First Nation.

The theft would have occurred between September 9th and September 27th, 2016.

This is not the first time the boxes were targeted as a similar incident occurred on August 29, 2016 with damage to a box but no bones were taken at that time.

The Gabriola Island RCMP are working with Lyackson First Nation, as well as assistance from RCMP Forensic Identification and West Coast Marine Section.

Anyone with any information about this crime is asked to contact the Gabriola RCMP at 250-247-8333 or if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)

Gary Drouillard, Lands and Operations Coordinator for Lyackson said this kind of damage and theft has been going on for at least 40 years.

“There are at least a half dozen holes that have been excavated. Whoever is doing this has been doing this for a long time. Some of the bodies have been there for close to 200 years.”

According to Drouillard, the other holes were unmarked graves, “it’s a substantial graveyard. But we’re not sure on how much has been taken.

“The one taken was 150 years old. The rest go back hundreds of years - there’s only a half dozen graves there that are under 200 years old, the rest are older.”

As to why someone would want to desecrate the site and steal a skeleton, Drouillard said, “the only reason I can see someone doing this would be to sell the bones an paraphernalia.

“Old chief’s bones, there’s a market out there. 

“It’s not anyone from the family or something like that.”

Security cameras and no trespassing signs from the site have also been stolen, and a number of the gates and locks have been tampered with, including having chains cut off.