The Songhees (Lekwungen), Nanoose (Snaw-Naw-As), Beecher Bay (Scia'new), T'Sou-ke and Malahat First Nations have joined together to form the Te'mexw Treaty Association, in order to negotiate modern treaties under the British Columbia treaty making process in Western Canada. All five member First Nations are located on Southern Vancouver Island, and are descendants of the signatories of the Douglas Treaties
The BC Treaty Negotiations Office
has primary responsibility for land claim settlements in the Province of British Columbia. Through treaties and other negotiated agreements, the Office represents British Columbians in order to achieve legal certainty and economic stability.
The British Columbia Treaty Commission
What is the B.C. Treaty Commission (BCTC)?
It is a body formed by First Nations in B.C. and Canada and the province. The BCTC is made up of five Commissioners:
- the Summit chose Miles Richardson and Wilf Adam as the two First Nation Commissioners
- the Commissioner for Canada is Peter Lusztig
- the Commissioner for the Province is Barbara Fisher
- the three parties chose Alec C. Robertson as Chief Commissioner
What is the BCTC's role?
The BCTC's role is to help the three parties negotiate modern day treaties and establish a new made in B.C. relationship.
What is the new relationship?
The new relationship between First Nations, Canada and B.C. recognizes the unique place of aboriginal people in B.C. The new relationship calls for recognition of and respect for First Nations as self determining and distinct nations with their own spiritual values, histories, languages, territories, political institutions and ways of life.
How was the BCTC established?
After more than 100 years of noninvolvement, the province agreed in the summer of 1990 to take part in the Treaty-making process.
First Nations saw this as an opportunity to resolve the outstanding
land question and other related matters.
A B.C. Claims Task Force was established in December, 1990 to determine how the three parties could begin negotiations and what the negotiations should include.
An agreement establishing the B.C. Treaty Commission was signed September 21, 1992 in North Vancouver, by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Premier Mike Harcourt and five First Nations Summit representatives.
This historic agreement is referred to as the Treaty Commission Agreement.
What is the First Nations Summit?
The Summit includes all First Nations in B.C. which have agreed to take part in the process.
What role does the First Nations Summit play in the Treaty Commission
The Summit's responsibilities related to the Treaty Commission includes the following:
- selecting the two First Nations Commissioners who will sit on the Treaty Commission
- selecting the Chief Commissioner along with Canada & B.C.
- receiving annual reports from the Commission
- reviewing the Commission's annual budget
- deciding, along with Canada and B.C., on changes to the Treaty Commission Agreement
What issues can be addressed in these negotiations?
Each of the parties to the negotiation of a treaty can introduce any issue to the negotiation table.
The Kosapsom and Songhees Nations have lived on southern Vancouver Island since 'time immemorial.' These people are known as Straits Salish. In 1850, the Kosapsom and Songhees First Nations signed Agreements with James Douglas of the Hudson's Bay Company selling land which included much of Vancouver Island. Click here for more information.
Between 1850 and 1854, James Douglas, as chief factor of Fort Victoria and governor of the colony, made a series of fourteen land purchases from aboriginal peoples.
The Douglas Treaties cover approximately 358 square miles of land around Victoria, Saanich, Sooke, Nanaimo and Port Hardy, all on Vancouver Island.
By the time the colony of Vancouver Island was established in 1849, British administrators had developed a colonial policy that recognized aboriginal possession of land. In 1850 the Hudson's Bay Company, which was responsible for British settlement of Vancouver Island as part of its trading license agreement with the Crown, began purchasing lands for colonial settlement and industry from aboriginal peoples on Vancouver Island.
Between 1850 and 1854, James Douglas, as chief factor of Fort Victoria and governor of the colony, made a series of fourteen land purchases from aboriginal peoples. The Douglas Treaties cover approximately 358 square miles of land around Victoria, Saanich, Sooke, Nanaimo and Port Hardy, all on Vancouver Island.
Treaty negotiations by Douglas did not continue beyond 1854 due, in part, to a lack of funds and the slow progress of settlement and industry in the 1850s.
Douglas' policies toward aboriginal peoples and land were generally consistent with British principles. Those of his political successors, however, proved to be not as consistent.
The fourteen Douglas treaties are similar in approach and content. An area of land was surrendered "entirely and forever" in exchange for cash, clothing, or blankets. The signatories and their descendants retained existing village sites and fields for their continued use, the "liberty to hunt over unoccupied lands" and the right to "carry on their fisheries as formerly."
Douglas' land purchases have consistently been upheld as treaties by the courts (R. v. White and Bob, 1964; R. v. Bartleman, 1984; Claxton v. Saanichton Marina Ltd., 1989). In 1987 the Tsawout Band successfully obtained a permanent injunction restraining the construction of a marina in Saanichton Bay on the grounds that the proposed facility would interfere with fishing rights promised to them by their 1852 treaty.
The following is a list of the signatory tribes and their present-day names:
Saanich, Victoria, Metchosin and Sooke areas
Teechamitsa now called Esquimalt Band
Saalequun now called Nanaimo Band
Queackar now called Kwakiutl (Kwawkelth) Band
Text of Douglas Treaty
Swengwhung Tribe - Victoria Peninsula, South of Colquitz.
Know all men, we, the chiefs and people of the family of Swengwhung, who have signed our names and made our marks to this deed on the thirtieth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty, do consent to surrender, entirely and for ever, to James Douglas, the agent of the Hudson's Bay Company in Vancouver Island, that is to say, for the Governor, Deputy Governor, and Committee of the same, the whole of the lands situate and lying between the Island of the Dead, in the Arm or Inlet of Camoson, where the Kosampsom lands terminate, extending east to the Fountain Ridge, and following it to its termination on the Straits of De Fuca, in the Bay immediately east of Clover Point, including all the country between that line and the Inlet of Camoson.
The condition of or understanding of this sale is this, that our village sites and enclosed fields are to be kept for our own use, for the use of our children, and for those who may follow afater us; and the land shall be properly surveyed, hereafter. It is udnerstood, however, that the land itself, with these small exceptions, becomes the entire propery of the white people for ever; it is also understood that we are at liberty to hunt over the unoccupied lands, and to carry on our fisheries as formerly.
We have received, as payment, Seventy-five pounds sterling.
In token whereof, we have signed our names and made our marks, at Fort Victoria, on the thirtieth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty.
Done before us,