‘Significant step forward’: Tsawout First Nation acquires 99.17-acre property in Central Saanich

(Photo: Tsawout First Nation)
The land, which measures 99.17 acres, is located at 7245 Puckle Rd.

Tsawout (SȾÁUTW̱) First Nation’s recent acquisition of a nearly 100-acre property in Central Saanich represents “a catalyst for change,” according to an official.

The 99.17-acre parcel is located at 7245 Puckle Rd., next to East Saanich Indian Reserve No. 2, also known as Tsawout’s main village.

The purchase boosts the Nation’s land base by more than 15 per cent, from 598 acres to close to 697 acres — an increase that’s “essential for community growth and development,” says Chief Abraham Pelkey.

Tsawout is thrilled about the “ideal geographic location,” considering its proximity to existing Nation infrastructure. Local road improvements are also in the works.

“This acquisition is a significant step forward for our community and generations to come,” said Pelkey, adding, “…land acquisition opportunities are a catalyst for change, enhancing opportunities for cultural revitalization and economic development — both of which require a sufficient land base.”

READ ALSO: B.C. transferring 312 hectares of land to 2 Vancouver Island First Nations

Tsawout says it’s been exploring ways to increase its land base, so members were thrilled when an “exceptional opportunity arose” last December. That’s when the owner of the property on Puckle offered to sell well below market value.

It was “a personal act of reconciliation,” according to Nation members, who note the seller wanted to sell directly to them and bypass the open market.

It says a property inspection culminated with “no red flags.”

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(Photo: Tsawout First Nation)

Leadership and staff quickly “recognized the immense value of this property. The parcel is ideally situated near planned access improvements and the sewage treatment plant, enhancing its utility and accessibility,” the Nation says.

“Additionally, it includes an access easement over the property nearest the beach, facilitating road and servicing access.”

Yet, Elder Mavis Underwood says the Nation isn’t just celebrating the acquisition of land, but rather the return of land to SȾÁUTW̱ peoples.

“This land was used by our ancestors for hunting, harvesting, gathering medicines, and other cultural and spiritual practices,” said Underwood.

“Displacement disrupted our way of life and economy, eroding traditional governance and land management systems. Reclaiming our land is crucial to cultural revitalization and ensuring a bright future for our youth.”

According to latest data on Canada.ca, Tsawout has a total registered population of 996 people.

Changes for the Nation

Tsawout is also launching a new consultation protocol and policy, which “provides direction and guidance to governments and proponents respecting consultation, accommodation, and relationship-building,” it says.

It comes amid the Land Back movement in Canada, a grassroots initiative that advocates for the return of Indigenous land currently held by governments or private entities.

In April, B.C.’s government introduced a bill that would give federally recognized First Nations the legal right to acquire and hold land in the province.

“Both the acquisition of the Puckle Road property and the launch of the Consultation Protocol are key components of SȾÁUTW̱ ’s Land Back strategy. Reconciliation and implementation of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples cannot happen without Land Back,” added Dr. Christine Bird, band manager.

“This is only the beginning of the conversation about what needs to change to ensure that land governance systems recognize and uphold Indigenous rights and jurisdiction.”

On Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tsawout is hosting a celebration and blessing event at the property. The event will include dinner, dancers, and singers.

Ethan Morneau

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