WALTERDALE BRIDGE REPLACEMENT 2013-2014 COMMUNITY CONSULTATION and Cultural Resource Management Plan
As you may be aware, the City of Edmonton (CoE) is planning to replace the Walterdale Bridge.
Significant historical resource concerns are associated with the Walterdale Bridge Replacement due to its proximity to the Fort Edmonton Cemetery and Traditional Burial Ground. As a result, Turtle Island Cultural Resource Management Inc. has prepared a Statement of Justification (SoJ) for Historical Resources Act requirements for the proposed Walterdale Bridge Replacement.
The SoJ summarizes a review of the proposed Project area carried out by Turtle Island CRM staff between May 20 and September 19, 2010 and includes the results of a combination of planning meetings and workshops with the Project Team and the City of Edmonton, a review of previous archaeological work carried out in the proposed project area, individual interviews with a selection of concerned stakeholders and community members, an Aboriginal Elders gathering facilitated by the City of Edmonton Aboriginal Relations Office and discussions with representatives from Alberta Culture and Community Spirit (ACCS). The SoJ included an overview of the proposed project area with reference to the nature of the proposed Walterdale Bridge replacement, alignment alternatives, previous disturbance factors, environmental context, known cultural resource sites present in the proposed project area (archaeological and historic) and previous cultural resource management studies carried out in the proposed project area. Based on this review, specific recommendations outlining further cultural resource management work and Aboriginal consultation toward acquiring HRA clearance from ACCS for the proposed bridge replacement alignment alternative were made.
Of concern in regard to the replacement bridge is its proximity to the Fort Edmonton Cemetery and Traditional Burial Ground. This 19th century Hudson’s Bay Company cemetery is a feature related to the provincially recorded archaeological site managed by ACCS under the HRA. This site includes the remains of at least two early 19th century AD fur trade forts, historic structures related to the Rossdale Power Plant and the aforementioned cemetery compound. Due largely to road construction and the installation of utility facilities in the area of this cemetery, multiple intact grave features have been disturbed since circa AD 1950. These repeated episodes of disturbance have significantly impacted this cemetery and garnered outrage from Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal and Métis descendents of those interred there.
Although this location poses the lowest risk of encountering intact features related to the Historic period cemetery compound located with The Fort Edmonton Cemetery and Traditional Burial Ground, past experience in this area has demonstrated that there is no such thing as a zero risk option. The issue of encountering human remains as a result of the current Project associated with the Historic period cemetery, both in the form of intact grave features and previously disturbed material, is of paramount concern to all community participants interviewed including the City of Edmonton Aboriginal Affairs Relations Office and participants of the Elders Gathering. In this regard, all parties were unified in the following two points; one, that appropriate Aboriginal ceremonial protocol be carried out prior to and as an ongoing part of the construction process (at the direction of community Elders); and two, that any intact or disturbed human remains identified during the course of the Walterdale Bridge Replacement Project be treated with utmost care and respect and that they be re-interned within the boundaries of the Ft. Edmonton Cemetery and Traditional Burial Ground. At the request of participants of the Elders Gathering, a pipe ceremony was carried out at the Memorial Site on Rossdale Flats in order to cleanse and bless the Project Team members and to request wisdom in making future planning decisions for the current development.
With reference to previous cultural resource planning and community engagement work carried out in regard to this Project and in order to affirm the importance of this cultural resource and respect its central significance to Aboriginal and Metis communities throughout Alberta, the City of Edmonton is developing a cultural resource management plan the includes the engagement of Aboriginal and Metis communities and individuals in regard to the Walterdale Bridge Replacement Project.
If you have concerns about this project and are a member of the Michel First Nation or a family member or have knowledge of this area and would like to provide input/feedback on package (which can be made available to you) *currently having difficulty attaching electronic package - Please contact: Quadbuds@xplornet.com