Sooke Mountain and Discovery Island Marine provincial parks are being considered for inclusion in treaties being negotiated with the T’Sou-ke and Songhees Nations.
T'Sou-ke, Songhees, Malahat, Beecher Bay (SC’IA⁄NEW) and Snaw-Naw-As Nations joined together as Te’mexw Treaty Association (TTA), and have been in negotiations with Canada and British Columbia since 1995 under the B.C. treaty negotiations process. The parties are now another step closer to completing treaty negotiations.
Although these five First Nations of the TTA are negotiating together, the negotiations will result in five separate treaties. These treaties are intended to encourage investment, create jobs, expand economic development, and support social well-being for Te’mexw Treaty Nations and their neighbours.
Sooke Mountain Park, located in the Sooke Hills on southern Vancouver Island, is being considered as part of the T’Sou-ke Treaty. Discovery Island Park, located off the coast of Victoria, is being considered as part of the Songhees Treaty.
TTA and B.C. are committed to maintain public access and continued recreational opportunities in the parks, and are also committed to protecting their cultural, ecological and conservation values. These commitments will be reflected in the terms and conditions of the treaties.
Modern treaties are part of Canada’s and British Columbia’s work to advance reconciliation, guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Treaties provide a framework for the three parties – Canada, B.C., and First Nations – to work toward the common goal of reconciliation, and build a new relationship through constitutionally protected government-to-government-to-government agreements.
The public is invited to a series of public open houses that will take place from late February until April to learn about the proposed treaties with the Malahat, Beecher Bay (SC’IA⁄NEW), Songhees, Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) and T’Sou-ke Nations. At these sessions, there will be further information about these park areas and other lands proposed to become Treaty Settlement Lands, as the parties move to the final stage of negotiations.
The treaty partners seek to share information about the treaties, answer questions from members of the public, and engage in dialogue about their efforts to foster long-term relationships.
Chief Ron Sam, Songhees Nation –
“Discovery Island, which our people have known as Tl’ches, is one of the last locations in our homelands that remains almost as it was 200 years ago. Many of our Nation’s generations have lived on this sacred island, and its rich surroundings reflect our peoples’ relationship to the land and water.”
Chief Gordon Planes, T’Sou-ke Nation –
“Before contact, our people co-existed with Mother Nature by following the footsteps of our ancestors in enhancing our territory. This insured a good life for our future generations. From the first contact, we all took too much too fast, and now is the time to reverse that. Let’s work together to enhance our watersheds and food forest, we owe it to our children and our children who are not born yet, they are our most valued currency.”
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“These treaties are intended to recognize the pre-existing rights and title of the five Te’mexw Member Nations and provide the basis for a revitalized relationship between Canada, B.C. and these First Nations. Treaties help everyone in B.C. by providing better clarity for First Nations and surrounding communities and will result in better social and economic opportunities for all communities in southern Vancouver Island.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“Sooke Mountain and Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park are culturally significant to both the T’Sou-ke and Songhees First Nations and were, at one time, at the heart of their traditional territory. These treaty negotiations recognize the cultural and social significance of these lands to Te’mexw Member Nations, and set us on a clear path to reconciliation while also continuing to uphold the ecological and conservation values of these special places, as well as continued recreational access for the general public.”
- Te’mexw Treaty Association is a non-profit society formed of five Coast Salish Nations:
- Beecher Bay (SC’IA/NEW)
- Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose)
- The Te’mexw Member Nations joined to work together under one organization to negotiate five Nation-specific modern treaties with the federal and provincial governments through the BC Treaty process.
- These agreements are subject to conclusion of the treaty negotiations, fulfilling consultation obligations with First Nations with overlapping territories and ratification by each First Nation, B.C. and Canada.
To find out more and sign up for treaty updates, visit: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/consultation/temexw-treaty-negotiations/
To find out more about the Te’mexw Treaty Association, visit: https://temexw.org/
To find out more about the Beecher Bay (SC’IA/NEW) First Nation, visit: beecherbay.ca
To find out more about the Malahat Nation, visit: malahatnation.com
To find out more about the Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose First Nation), visit: snawnawas.org
To find out more about the Songhees Nation, visit: songheesnation.ca
To find out more about the T’Sou-ke Nation, visit: tsoukenation.com
Two backgrounders follow.