Sunday, April 21, 2024

BC gives land back to Snuneymuxw First Nation near Nanaimo in spirit of reconciliation


The first gift of land back to the Snuneymuxw First Nation has been given by the Province with more to follow. 

It’s been four years since the Snuneymuxw and BC agreed to a Land Transfer Agreement that would see over 3,000 hectares of land given back to the First Nation. 

This first return of Indigenous land is a mere 212 hecates of the agreed amount. The Province says the remaining 2,882 hectares will be given back to the Snuneymuxw in the near future. 

The land was taken from the First Nation in the first place following the signing of a treaty in 1894. 

The Snuneymuxw First Nation says that their ancestors were smart to sign the treaty which would protect their lands, but much was done over the last 165+ years to deny or erase their people, rights, way of being and spirituality. 

“Our mission is clear: continue building on our economic growth and secure a prosperous future for generations to come,” said Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse. 

“We infuse our Snawaylth into all our economic projects, embracing it as a guiding force toward restoring balance within our territory. In doing so, we deepen our profound connection to the land and culture, while responsibly governing precious resources.” 

“There remains over 2,882 hectares of our village to come back to us as part of the agreement and we will continue to work with the minister to enable this transfer for the benefit of our people,” Chief Wyse concluded. 

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The 212 hectares gifted back to the First Nation is located on Mount Benson East, just south of Nanaimo. 

On this land are petroglyphs—ancient carvings in rock done by the Snawaylth Snuneymuxw—which will be managed and maintained by the First Nation going forward and they will also be overseeing a forest management program as stewards of their ancestors’ land. 

“Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Mount Benson East lands hold much opportunity for the Nation to create new economic activity in forestry, while also protecting wildlife habitat,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. 

“This land transfer represents another step in our relationship. It will foster transformative change toward self-government and bring stability and prosperity to everyone in the mid-Island region.”

The next land transfers will include additional territory on Mount Benson North as well as Mount McKay.

Curtis Blandy

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