Sooke Mountain and Discovery Island Marine provincial parks could be part of treaties currently being negotiated with the T’Sou-ke and Songhees Nations.
The T’Sou-ke, Songhees, Malahat, Beecher Bay (SC’IA⁄NEW) and Snaw-Naw-As Nations have come together as the Te’mexw Treaty Association for negotiations with the federal and provincial governments that began in 1995.
Negotiations are expected to lead to five separate treaties aimed at encouraging investment, job creation, economic development, housing and social well-being for both the treaty nations and their neighbours.
Sooke Mountain Park, located in the Sooke Hills, would be part of the T’Sou-ke Nation’s treaty, while Discovery Island Marine Park, off Willows Beach, would be part of the Songhees treaty.
The treaty association and province say public access and recreational opportunities would be maintained in the two parks, while their cultural, ecological and conservation values are protected.
A series of open houses on the treaties is set to begin Feb. 25
Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees Nation said Discovery Island, known as Tl’ches to the Songhees people, is one of the last locations in their homelands that have remained almost intact over the past 200 years.
“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,” Sam said.
T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes said before contact with Europeans, his people “co-existed with Mother Nature by following the footsteps of our ancestors in enhancing our territory.”
“This ensured 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.”
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said the treaties are meant to recognize pre-existing rights and title and provide the basis for a “revitalized relationship” between the federal and provincial governments and First Nations.
Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the city wrote a formal letter of support last March recognizing Songhees treaty settlement lands within city boundaries as part of an “unwavering” commitment to working with the Songhees Nation.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said she looks forward to continued co-operation with the T’Sou-ke Nation, whose people were “the original inhabitants of the land on which we live.”
Open houses on the treaties:
• Feb. 25, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Songhees Wellness Centre, 1100 Admirals Rd.
• March 2, 4:30-7 p.m., Edward Milne Community school, 6218 Sooke Rd.
• March 4, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Quarterdeck, Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Rd.
• March 6, 4:30-7 p.m., Nanoose Bay Community Centre, 2925 NW Bay Rd., Nanoose Bay
• March 7, 4:30-7 p.m., George Jay Elementary, 1118 Princess Ave.
• March 11, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Shawnigan Lake Community Hall, 2804 Shawnigan Lake Rd., Shawnigan Lake
• March 15, 4:30-7 p.m., Metchosin Community Hall, 4401 William Head Rd., Victoria
Virtual open houses, with pre-registration required, are set for April 5, 2:30-4 p.m., and April 13, 6-7:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Temexw.Treaty@gov.bc.ca.