Tsawout First Nation

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Treaty News November 2013

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Longhouse construction webBy  Eric Pelkey, Treaty Officer

Tsawout Longhouse

- A Central part of our identity as WSÀNEĆ people and families of STÀUTW.

Tsawout Snepeneks Cultural Society recently had a “Raise the Longhouse” live music fundraiser on October 5, which I coordinated. It was well attended and generated many donations. Potential contacts and donors were created. I am still awaiting a final financial outcome report from the Interim Society Coordinator, as he took charge of all funds and donations received for the event.

I would like to personally thank all the volunteers who came forward to help out with the event. The cooks prepared a wonderful meal that night for all our guests and volunteers.

The SQUIALA First Nation in Chilliwack provides a shining example of how their Longhouse was constructed as part of their commercial development plan. Please look it up on the internet (www.squiala.com). It shows what can be done when the community sets out their Cultural priorities and brings them forward.

I would like to start the Longhouse as soon as possible, so I think an AGM for the Longhouse needs to be called. Board Elections for the SNEPENEKS Cultural Society is now due. I expect a meeting notice to go out soon.

Renaming our Land

Pkols - The Pkols sign depicting the true WSÀNEĆ name to our Sacred Mountain was removed by Saanich Municipality recently for what they have explained was “safety reasons”. I have met with them and they have agreed to put the sign back in a permanent location on PKOLS. I am awaiting drawings of their proposals.

ŁAWELNEW - The next target of action is to restore the WSÀNEĆ name of ŁAWELNEW, our Sacred Mountain, meaning “place of refuge” from the Great flood of 10,000 years ago. Our organizational meetings for this action are in the early stages, but we are ramping it up because Central Saanich (CS) has recently passed a motion to allow development on ŁÀWELNEW. Chief and Council have signed a BCR laying out our protest on any development on ŁÁWELNEW, which has been presented to CS Council in September. We have not received a response from CS. A meeting will be called in the near future to discuss strategy and actions.

Land Claims and Specifics Claims

Cordova Spit (the Point)

We are going to re-file papers with the Federal Specific Claims branch for Cordova Spit to be officially recognized as part of the East Saanich IR # 2. This has been rejected previously, so we are reworking our submission making new justifications in our case in order to meet their narrow guidelines.

Pender – Poets Cove

This has been accepted by the Specific Claims Branch for review.  The present resort is located on our old village site which is next to our Pender Island Reserve. Part of this claim is that only Tsawout owns this reserve (it is currently registered as joint ownership with Tseycum, as is Saturna).
I hear that it is for sale. I will need to confirm officially if this is true then we strategize!

James Island

We are researching this claim for filing or other action. We are getting no response from the fee simple owner, McCaw. Unfortunately the Specific Claims branch only allows one claim a year to be filed so we are looking a year down the road before filing for James Island. Other avenues or actions need to be explored.

Tsawassen Treaty

We were successful with our WSÀNEĆ leadership in stopping the proposed Commercial shellfish harvesting in the Gulf Islands by the Tsawassen First Nation. A right Canada and BC gave them under their new Treaty. Our pressure made them abandon this plan. This Treaty was implemented against our objections because of claims they made to the Gulf Islands.


We are presently meeting with the Government Representatives about the implications of this Treaty to our Douglas Treaty Rights and our WSÁNEĆ Territory under the BC Treaty Process. The TEMEXW Treaty Association takes in Malahat, Songhees, Beecher Bay, T’SOUKE and Nanoose First Nations. We have met with Malahat to receive their information. The other members have contacted us in writing. Malahat is laying claim to part of the Gulf Islands and Saanich Peninsula.

Cadboro Bay Claim by Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations

We have sent letters of objections to the Crown and the First Nations because we have a historical claim as we had a village of our people living in that location at the time of our Douglas Treaty signing in 1852.

We also raised objection because both First Nations are willing to give up Douglas Treaty Rights in that area upon settlement of their claim. We feel our Douglas Treaty rights are an individual right that can never be put up for negotiation.

Chilcotin Land Claim

We have been granted “intervener status” in this huge Land Claim Case because of its negative implications to our Douglas Treaty Rights, plus our outstanding claims to our territory, villages and resources. It is a joint action by most of the Douglas Treaty Nations on Vancouver Island.