Five Vancouver Island First Nations have signed pre-treaty agreements with the B.C. government that include land deals in advance of final treaties.

The five First Nations are all based on mid- and southern Vancouver Island, and include land transfers to the urban Victoria Songhees First Nation, the Scia'new of Beecher Bay, the T'Sou-ke of Sooke, the Malahat First Nation and the Snaw-naw-as of Nanoose, which is north of Nanaimo.

In a written statement, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong said the land agreements are part of the province's Incremental Treaty Agreements (ITA) program, which aims to assist in the treaty negotiation process with offers of partial settlements.

Where the Te'mexw nations are based

  • Songhees: on Esquimalt Harbour in Victoria
  • T'Sou-ke: near Sooke
  • Scia'new: southern tip of Vancouver Island
  • Malahat: western shore of Saanich Inlet, north of Victoria
  • Snaw-naw-as: east coast of Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo

The ITA program aims to bring benefits more quickly to First Nations communities with the advances of portions of a future complete settlement package, while also supporting reconciliation and economic certainty, she said.

Chong said the five nations have shown "vision and determination" in reaching agreements with the B.C. government. She said the land deals are immediate tangible benefits for the citizens of the nations undergoing the treaty process.

The five nations are members of the Te'mexw Treaty Association, which has been negotiating a modern-day treaty through the B.C. treaty process since 1995.

Te'mexw Treaty Association Chairman Tom Bob accepted the ITA development on behalf of the roughly 1,600 people the association represents.


Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong presides over the ceremonial signing of agreements with five First Nations located on Vancouver Island. (BC Gov Flickr)

"With great pride, we accept the return of some of our lands through these Incremental Treaty Agreements," he said in a written statement.

"This milestone has been made possible by the strong vision, goals and objectives of our elders — especially our late chairman and chief of negotiations, Wilson Bob — we remember his vision, commitment and strength today," Bob said.

The nations represented by the Te'mexw association were parties to the historic Douglas Treaties that were signed between 1850 and 1854.

Lands transfers announced under ITA

  • Songhees: 0.14 ha in Esquimalt; 0.10 ha in James Bay; 0.04 ha in Victoria. One of the three will be transferred upon signing the agreement in principle
  • T'Sou-ke: 60 ha at Broom Hill, located within their traditional territory in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area. Another 60 ha will be transferred upon signing the agreement in principle
  • Scia'new: 67 ha in the shared territories of the Scia-new and T'Sou-ke in the District of Sooke
  • Malahat: 64 ha in the south Shawnigan Lake area. An adjacent 120 ha parcel will be transferred upon signing the agreement in principle
  • Snaw-naw-as: two parcels of 3 ha and 3.4 ha within their traditional territory and the Regional District of Nanaimo, which will be transferred within the next three years