‘Good fit’: Island First Nation buys Sidney whale watching company

The celebration is pictured on Sept. 22, 2023.

There was a gathering in Sidney on Friday to celebrate the Tsawout First Nation acquiring a local whale watching company.

The Tsawout First Nation purchased the Sidney Whale Watching company in May, which has been locally operated for nearly 20 years.

Michael Child, former owner of Sidney Whale Watching, says that after 18 years, the family made the decision to move on to new business ventures.

“I’m Kwagiulth and First Nation and I’ve often felt that it’s a good fit for First Nations to host travellers and locals alike in their traditional territory,” said Child at the celebration on Friday.

“That’s when we reached out to the Tsawout First Nation to see if there was some interest in taking over, and here we are,” he said.

Tsawout First Nation Chief Abraham Pelkey says he’s excited for a chance to take nation members as well as visitors out on the nation’s traditional territory.

“It;s amazing to us because, again, we’ll be out there, be able to get our children out there and get the true learning of the land and express our way of life,” said Pelkey.

“And to express our history, to place ourselves back out to the land, it’s almost like coming home again,” he said.

Pelkey says his nation is also excited about providing new employment and cultural opportunities for youth in the community.

The Sidney Whale Watching company employs six or seven people during peak times, using two 12-passenger boats to tour the Salish Sea.

The former operators say they’ll give the Tsawout any support they need during the transition.

“Who better to take this over than us? Because we could place ourselves back out on our traditional territories and traditional water,” said Pelkey.

SEE ALSO: Tsawout First Nation signs declaration of marine protected area


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