Esquimalt First Nation claims land, water

The Esquimalt First Nation is claiming lands and water around Greater Victoria, saying the Crown unlawfully seized the property.

In a notice of civil claim filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. on Tuesday, the Esquimalt Nation is seeking an order of possession for the lands and water in question, and compensation.

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The area covers waterfront land in Esquimalt that is now held by the Department of National Defence, running roughly north to Lyall Street in Esquimalt and west to Clifton Terrace near Macaulay Point.

Plumper Bay and Inskip Islands are also claimed, as is a chunk of land from the shoreline on the west and across Admirals Road and past Seenupin Road on the east. Hallowell Road is the northern border.

On oral agreement was struck in 1850 between the Lekwungen collective, representing six southern Vancouver Island sub-groups, and James Douglas, who was representing the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Imperial Crown, the notice of claim states. The Lekwungen collective is today part of the Esquimalt Nation.

Under the terms of that treaty, the claim states, the Lekwungen would keep their village sites, burial lands and sustenance resource lands, including camas fields, berry and herb-gathering areas, and potato patches.

Also, the Lekwungen were to retain their fishing grounds and right to fish, and the title to the land would not change, it said.

The federal Crown unlawfully infringed on the Lekwungen’s aboriginal title, the document states. Lekwungen traditional territory was transferred to agents of the Crown and to others, the claim asserts.

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