As five local Nations move to the final stages of treaty negotiations, Sooke Mountain and Discovery Island Marine provincial parks are now being considered for inclusion.
“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,” said Songhees Chief Ron Sam in a statement.
Joined together as Te’mexw Treaty Association, the Songhees, T’Sou-ke, Malahat, Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) and Snaw-Naw-As Nations, have been in negotiations with the provincial and federal governments since 1995 under the B.C. treaty negotiations process. While the nations are negotiating together, it will result in separate treaties intended to encourage investment, create jobs, expand economic development and support social well-being for the nations and their neighbours, according to the statement from the province.
Sooke Mountain Provincial Park is being considered for the T’Sou-ke Treaty. Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park, off the coast of Oak Bay, is being considered for the Songhees Treaty.
“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,” said T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Plane
In the statement, the province said it and Te’mexw Treaty Association are committed to maintaining public access and continued recreational opportunities in the parks while also protecting cultural, ecological and conservation values, which will be reflected in the terms of the treaties.
“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,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in the statement.
The public is invited to a series of open houses, taking place in late February until April, on the proposed treaties. To find out more, go to engage.gov.bc.ca or to sign up for updates, go to feedback.engage.gov.bc.ca/527862?lang=en.