News & Publications

Lightning Rock

News & Articles

YEAR -2021

July 07, 2021 |

Unmarked graves were documented years ago but most of us looked away

The discovery of 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops, the 751 in Cowessess, the 104 found in Brandon and many more sure to come have been shocking to many Canadians but they shouldn’t have been, not if we were listening.

It was all there, ready for anyone to read in the 2015 report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There is an entire 273-page volume devoted just to this issue titled, “Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.”

The language in the report is matter of fact, the content is heartbreaking.

A total of 3,201 children documented to have died, or thought to have died, at Canada’s residential schools. Thought to have died is included because records remain incomplete — some are thought to   Read More..

29 June 2021 |

Mou Reached With Provincial Government on Lightning Rock Sacred Burial Site

In keeping with the Sumas First Nation’s commitment to collaborating with other levels of government to support reconciliation, the Sumas First Nation and the Province of British Columbia have agreed to work together on ways to address ancient Sumas burial lands in Abbotsford.

Today we announce a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) committing the Province to working jointly with the Sumas First Nation on a government-to-government (“G2G”) basis, as set out in the existing Stó:lō Strategic Engagement Agreement (“SSEA”). Both sides will discuss and develop recommendations regarding the Lightning Rock Site in a way that is respectful to all parties affected.

Lightning Rock and its surrounding area Read More..

Apr 26, 2021 | By Vaughn Palmer

Vaughn Palmer: ‘Large chunks’ of B.C. Crown land could end up in hands of Indigenous Nations

VICTORIA — The B.C. government should prepare the public for the coming “big shock” when “fairly large chunks” of provincial Crown land are recognized as actually owned and controlled by Indigenous Nations.

So says Jack Woodward, the lawyer who won the case that resulted in the first declaration of Aboriginal title in B.C. and who is taking another title case to court next year.

“Much of the Crown land in B.C. isn’t Crown land — it is owned by Indigenous people,” says Woodward, drawing on his reading of history, constitutional law and the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision in the Tsilhqot’in title case in 2014.

“Over the next generation we’re going to see a replacement of ownership of large parts of the province. It is going to be a big shock and a big change   Read More..

YEAR -2020

Oct. 12, 2020 | BY GORDON JAREMKO

Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Secures Reroute Agreement With BC Tribal Leaders

A seven-year dispute has ended in an agreement by Trans Mountain Pipeline to reroute its expansion project by building a bypass around a native rights sore spot in southern British Columbia (BC).

The deal, filed late Friday with the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), charts the new course to avoid risking contamination of a subterranean aquifer tapped by the Coldwater Indian Band beneath its reserve near Merritt. Read More..


June 22, 2020 | Jake Cardinal, AN News

Indigenous groups react to TMX pipeline spill

On Saturday June 13, 2020 the Trans Mountain pipeline in Abbotsford, BC spilled an estimated 150,000 litres of crude oil into the environment. In other words, they lost 1,195 barrels.The pipeline was immediately shut down after the company learned of the spill.

Trans Mountain stated that despite the spill, their environmental monitoring systems detect no threats to any of the inhabitants (wildlife excluded), waterways, or air. Read More..


Aug. 18, 2020 | BY KATIE GARRITY

A Pipeline in Canada Just Spilled up to 50,000 Gallons of Oil on Indigenous Land

Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline has spilled as many as 190,000 liters of crude oil, which is approximately 50,193 gallons, in Abbotsford, British Columbia. This recent spill has done nothing but reinforce the concerns about the safety of the pipeline’s planned expansion.

While the company that runs the pipeline says freestanding oil associated with the spill has been recovered and that they will continue to monitor groundwater and air quality as cleanup continues.Read More



Abbotsford oil spill garnered B.C.-wide reaction

An oil spill late Friday night from the Sumas Pump Station owned by Trans Mountain in Abbotsford is garnering reaction from near and far.

“Our main concern is for the cleanup of this spill and preventing further impacts to our territory,” Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation said. The Trans Mountain main line was shut down after an alarm sounded Saturday and crews were dispatched to investigate.An incident command post was set up over the weekend by Trans Mountain to co-ordinate   Read More…


July 15, 2020 | Sumas First Nation

Sumas First Nation renews fishing practice and data gathering of chinook salmon in traditional territory

From July 15, 2020 to August 31, 2020, the Sumas First Nation is working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to pilot an 8-inch selective gill net fishery in the traditional territory of S’olh Temexw at what is presently known as the Sumas/Vedder River in Abbotsford. Sumas First Nation is requesting cooperation of recreational and water users in the area to take actions to avoid the gillnets,  ….Read More

May 13, 2020 | Jorge Barrera, CBC News

First Nation eyes claim over Lightning Rock site in path of Trans Mountain

A Stó:lō First Nation in B.C. is considering filing a claim over a sacred site that sits in the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, part of a possible influx of new claims that could be triggered by the project.

The $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline project crosses 400 existing historical claims — known as specific claims —which stem from loss of promised lands, breaches of treaty and Ottawa’s mishandling of trust funds, accordin Read More…

YEAR -2019

Dec. 5, 2019 | Jillian Kestler-D’Amours

Nations Divided: Mapping Canada’s Pipeline Battle

Blue River, BC – As the sun sinks lower on the horizon, Mayuk Manuel rolls a warped tree stump off the road, opening a path that leads to a cluster of tiny houses nestled amid a grove of tall conifers.

The stump and a barrier of plastic orange fencing control entry to the Tiny House Warriors encampment in the community of Blue River, British Columbia (BC). On one of the homes, painted all black with white and red accents, a figure thrusts a spear into the air. On another, a swan spreads its wings next to a majestic mountain range. Signs posted nearby read: “RCMP have no jurisdiction” and “No mountain pipelines”. Read More..

Aug. 10, 2019 |

Truck route trouble adds to uncertainty with Lightning Rock land

A court battle is brewing over a road used by hundreds of gravel trucks each day and the precious land on which it sits.

In June, the City of Abbotsford filed notice to expropriate land that sits beneath a road constructed a decade ago to access several gravel mines on Sumas Mountain.

But the road sits on a right-of-way on one of Abbotsford’s most talked-about pieces of undeveloped land, and last week the company that owns the property filed notice calling on a judge to stop the expropriation. Read More…


Jun. 14, 2019 | By The Canadian Press

First Nations call for return of sacred burial site in Abbotsford

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Indigenous leaders from across British Columbia and parts of the United States gathered at a sacred burial site in Abbotsford, B.C., to call for its protection by the provincial government.

From a grassy plateau overlooking farmland in the Fraser Valley, Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver told those gathered they were standing on a mass grave where hundreds if not thousands of their ancestors are buried after a smallpox outbreak.

YEAR -2018

Sep. 13, 2018 |

Developers Versus First Nations Over Heritage Conservation Laws in BC

The need for reform of heritage conservation laws in a British Columbia province has pitted the Sumas First Nation against a developer.

John Glazema, director of Corpus Management Group, who lives in the City of Abbotsford, purchased a 160-acre property of farm and woodland in 2011, reports CBC News. His plan was to construct a $40-million residential and industrial, including a retail mall that would sell farm equipment.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” Glazema told CBC News. “We’re there to support the agricultural community that keeps this community alive, that employs more people than any other industry.”

But ancestors of the Sumas First Nation are said to be buried there.

“We were told to stay away from there,” Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver told CBC. “In the language of our old people, they said ‘chi,’ which meant the spirits, were there. We were told the ancestors were buried there.”  Read More..

YEAR -2017

6 Sep, 2017|by Carrielynn Victor

Lightning Rock in Abbotsford BC

Carrielynn Victor at Lightning Rock, in Abbotsford BC. This fractured rock is endowed with a deep cultural history, and sits upon a burial ground for Indigenous victims of a historic smallpox epidemic.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline route passes through this area and this site is slated to become a material storage zone.  Read More..

Apr. 11, 2017|Gowling Wlg


On April 10, 2017, the Sumas First Nation and the province of British Columbia reached an agreement to negotiate certain unresolved issues surrounding ancient Sumas burial lands located near Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford.

The Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) commits the Province to work jointly with the Sumas First Nation   Read More..

YEAR -2016

Dec 8, 2016|Macleans

How to kill the Trans Mountain pipeline

Opponents of Trans Mountain amass, with some eyes alighting on Lightning Rock—which could prove to be a lightning rod, akin to Standing Roc

Lightning Rock has long been sacred to the Sumas people of B.C.’s Fraser Valley—a site where a shaman was thought to have transformed into a giant boulder before getting blasted into four pieces by a bolt from an avenging thunderbird. In the 1780s, perhaps as a show of deference, the Sumas interred victims of smallpox around the stone, creating a 12-hectare burial ground they’ve recently scrambled to preserve. Two years ago, they fought off a proposal for a massive business and residential development on the site. “Basically,” says Chief Dalton Silver, “we’re just trying to protect the place.”  Read More..

YEAR -2014

Dec 01, 2014|Duncan McCue - CBC News

Aboriginal gravesites halt $40M development plan in Abbotsford

A B.C. developer is calling on the province to fix gaps in heritage conservation laws, after the City of Abbotsford recently rejected his bid to build a farm equipment dealership on a property believed to be the site of aboriginal mass graves.

“This is a huge problem,” said John Glazema, director of Corpus Management Group, who lives in Abbotsford. “I feel betrayed because there shouldn’t be these types of encumbrances against private properties without having it highlighted on land title.” Read More..