LOWER POST, B.C. -- A ceremony to mark the demolition of a former residential school building in a British Columbia First Nation community has been postponed after animal remains were found by construction workers.

The ceremony in the tiny community of Lower Post near the B. C-Yukon boundary was set for Monday, but the band council said in a statement it cancelled the gathering because of the discovery.

Last April, the federal and B.C. governments announced the construction of a $13.5-million, multipurpose community centre to replace the building many local elders feared as a place where they suffered physical and sexual abuse.

The Daylu Dena Council said Friday a recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Yukon and the “trauma” caused by the discovery of the remains led to the decision to put off the ceremony.

The council said the RCMP started an immediate investigation and conducted a forensic analysis of the remains, confirming they were not human.

Premier John Horgan said in a statement the province supports the decision to make the well-being of the community the priority.

“As soon as the community decides when to reschedule this important ceremony, I will be honoured to accept their invitation to attend the demolition of the Lower Post residential school, a building that should have been removed years ago,” he said.

The RCMP's M Division in Yukon says in a statement a forensic anthropologist confirmed the remains to be those of an animal and permitted the construction company to resume its work.

The animal bones were found about 60 to 90 metres from the former residential school building, the statement says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021.