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The Lekwungen History of Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill was not always a park. It was once part of the land used and occupied by the Lekwungen peoples, today represented by the Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations. When first observed by Europeans in the mid-19th century, there were no Indigenous villages in the present park area. However, the evidence of pre-contact activities and oral tradition tell a different story.

Evidence of the early use of the Park area by Indigenous peoples consists of the remains of village refuse at defensive localities at Finlayson Point.

The First Nations Burial Cairn in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC, Canada is a historic site that dates back to the early 19th century. The cairn is a significant cultural and historical landmark for the local First Nations people, as well as for the wider community.

The cairn was originally built by the Lekwungen (Songhees) First Nations people to honor their ancestors who were buried in the area. The Lekwungen people have a long history in the Victoria region, and their ancestors were buried in various locations throughout the area.

In the early 1800s, as European settlers began to arrive in the region, many of these burial sites were destroyed or disturbed. The Lekwungen people built the cairn in Beacon Hill Park as a way to protect and preserve their ancestral burial sites.

The cairn is made up of large stones that were carefully placed to form a circular shape. Inside the cairn are the remains of Lekwungen ancestors who were buried in the area. The cairn is a sacred site for the Lekwungen people, and it is still used today for traditional ceremonies and gatherings.

In recognition of the importance of the First Nations Burial Cairn, the City of Victoria designated it as a heritage site in 1992. The cairn is a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the local First Nations people and serves as a symbol of the ongoing relationship between the First Nations people and the wider community. Visitors to the park are encouraged to treat the cairn with respect and reverence, and to learn more about the history and culture of the local First Nations people.


Defensive Sites

Burial Cairns

Other Uses

Camus Country by Janis Ringuette ~ the fascinating story of the importance of the herb camas to the Lekwungen culture.

Learn more in this Royal BC museum article by Grant Keddie: Aboriginal Defensive Sites

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