Crews working on the West Victoria Street reconstruction project in Kamloops in the summer of 2019 discovered ancestral remains of the Secwépemc people. (File photo by DAVE EAGLES/KTW)

Crews working on the West Victoria Street reconstruction project in Kamloops in the summer of 2019 discovered ancestral remains of the Secwépemc people. (File photo by DAVE EAGLES/KTW)

Remains found under Kamloops street belong to woman who lived five centuries ago

Woman was between ages of 50 and 59, gave birth at least once, was right-handed

By Kamloops This Week

Remains discovered last summer during roadwork in downtown Kamloops were those of an arthritic mother in her 50s, dating to before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas.

Tk’emlups language and culture manager Ted Gottfriedson said the band has learned the bones date back 545 years and belonged to a woman between the ages of 50 and 59 who stood about five feet tall, gave birth to at least one child, was right-handed and had osteoarthritis. No cause of death was determined.

Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir said no other artifacts were found around the remains when they were unearthed on June 26 below West Victoria Street.

The remains — including rib bones, a femur and shoulder blade — will be reburied in the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve cemetery on Nov. 1.

“The first Europeans to move in here was like 1810, 1811,” Gottfriedson said. “This was about 300 years earlier that she had passed away. When she had passed away, this would have been a time when we were at our peak for population, for our culture, for everything. This would have been high times for our people.”

He said the discovery reiterates the prevalence of the Secwepemc people throughout the Nicola Valley, a reminder that previous to living on reserves, First Nations were “everywhere.”

A proper reburial is important, he added.

“She’s been driven over,” Gottfriedson said. “For me, personally, I just think of all the times I’ve driven over her and how awful that is for me to have done that.”

T’kemlups praised the City of Kamloops for how it handled the discovery. He cited the city’s contractor for stopping work immediately, the hiring of security to protect the remains, and the provision of access for a ceremony during afternoon rush hour.

READ MORE: B.C. orchardists file lawsuit over ancestral remains site

“It’s really terrible for us to step over a grave, well, never mind digging them up,” he said. “It’s one of the worst things we can do, so we have to have a ceremony to help her in our way.

“It was so cool, the excavator operator asked to be involved. It was very powerful.”

Darren Crundwell, capital projects manager, said he expects the city’s archaeological protocols will change practices in the field.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

Exact numbers are not known for active cases in Golden. (File photo)
No cluster in Golden, according to Interior Health

Despite positive cases in the community, no cluster or outbreak has been declared by Interior Health

Glass of whiskey
UBCO substance use clinic goes virtual

The clinic is adapting the way it provides services as the pandemic continues

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Kelowna firefighters on scene of an apartment fire on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
Firefighters tend to apartment blaze along Gordon Drive

Two dogs were found safe inside the unit

2020
Urban wildlife Part VI: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser throughout 2020. Part VI.

RCMP are investigating after a witness reported seeing two individuals breaking into and removing items from a mailbox in Armstrong Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Thieves break into, steal items from North Okanagan mailbox

Police investigating after items were taken from a community mailbox on Van Kleeck Avenue Thursday

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Tim Hortons in Lake Country banded together to help raise more than $4,700 for the local food bank through its Smile Cookie campaign. (Photo submitted)
Lake Country Tim Hortons brings smiles to food bank

Annual Smile Cookie campaign raises $4,735

Most Read