A Canadian couple who unearthed the ancient skeleton of an aboriginal woman may also have to foot the thousands of dollars it cost to excavate the historical remains.
At first, Ontario resident Ken Campbell thought the bones he dug up while putting in a new fence earlier in June might be from an old animal skeleton. But Campbell's wife, Nicole Sauve, wasn't so sure, according to the Toronto Star.
“I said, ‘They’re not animal bones, Ken. Let’s dig some more and see what we can find,'" Sauve told the outlet. And she was right.
The remains belonged to what researchers now believe was an aboriginal woman who died in the late 1500s or early 1600s around the age of 24, according to the Star.
Local law enforcement authorities cordoned off the scene while a forensic anthropologist and local coroner were brought in to investigate remains that have now been identified as a skull, femur and ribcage, according to The Observer.
Local Registrar of Cemeteries Mike D’Mello told the Blackburn News that the woman, who may be a distant relative of the nearby Aamjiwnaang First Nation, had been interred in a shallow "pit" grave, which is characteristic of aboriginal burials.
While thrilled with the discovery, Campbell and Sauve said they may now have to pay for the expensive excavation of the remains, nicknamed "Sephira" by Sauve. Ontario's 2002 Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act dictates that property owners are responsible for the costs of such an assessment, according to a follow-up by The Observer.
“I'm devastated by it,” Sauve told The Observer of the revelation. “I did the right thing. I could have covered her back up.”
The couple has appealed to local officials in an effort to avoid paying a bill estimated between $5,000 and $7,500, according to the Star.
In the meantime, the bones, which Sauve originally wanted to keep, have been re-interred at a special First Nation cemetery following a traditional ceremony performed by members of the First Nation.