WATCH: Disgust and outrage after Cowichan Valley cemetery vandalism that resulted in historical gravestones being smashed and pushed over. Tess van Straaten reports.
It’s the Cowichan Valley’s second oldest cemetery and one of the oldest on Vancouver Island.
“This is where Maple Bay’s first settlers were buried,” explains area resident Dan Hughes. “There is so much history here.
The first burial at Pioneer Cemetery was almost 150 years ago and most of the gravestones date back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
But more than a dozen of these historically important gravestones have been vandalized — some smashed, others ripped from the ground or tipped over.
“You see a graveyard desecrated — who in their right mind would do that?” a disgusted Hughes asks. “It’s disappointing, it’s sickening. What can you say? It’s just the thing stupid people do.”
Concerned residents say this isn’t the first time there’s been damage, but it’s by far the worst and police are taking this senseless crime very seriously.
“I don’t think they appreciate the gravity of the consequences of their actions,” says Cpl. Krista Hobday of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. “Those were someone’s loved ones, our ancestors and we should really be respecting them as much as possible.”
Historic cemetery has become a known party spot
Sadly, the cemetery is a known party spot and beer cans and condoms often litter this sacred ground.
“The type of people that come up here are a young crowd that use this area for drinking, drugs and partying.”
The historic cemetery is at the end of a gravel road near Herd Road and Pioneer Road.
It’s in an isolated location surrounded by towering trees so catching the vandals won’t be easy but police are hoping either they — or someone who knows what they did — will do the right thing and come forward.
“We’re really appealing to the public and we’re hoping a concerned citizen will get wind of who’s responsible and let us know so that we can further our investigation,” Cpl. Hobday says.
In the meantime, police will be stepping up patrols in the area.
Residents say nightly patrols will help stop the partying and preserve this piece of Island history for future generations.