‘You are now the first and final owners of this land’: W̱SÁNEĆ Nation receives 19 hectares of Island land back


In a historic land back event on the Saanich Peninsula, the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation received 19 hectares of land from an Island family, all from the kindness of their hearts.

The Berglund family has owned the parcel of land in Central Saanich since the 1980’s and has mainly used it as farmland. Briand Berglund and his family were at the ceremonial event Friday and were met with warm arms from nation members.

“I hope that the W̱SÁNEĆ gets some comfort in having this land returned to them. You [W̱SÁNEĆ] are now the first and final owners of this land,” said Berglund.

Many elected chiefs were at the ceremony Friday thanking the family for their kindness and their historic contribution to reconciliation. Chief Don Tom from the Tsartlip First Nation understands the impact that this gift will have for all of the nations.

“Having donors and having those who which to have land return to the First Nations directly provides an opportunity for us to have land and to be able to look after it again,” said Tom.

The land, labelled as TIKEL (tsee-kull), was traditionally cared for as a place to cultivate and collect important foods, medicines and materials, including bog cranberries and pacific willow.  The land historically also filtered water, reduced the impact of seasonal flooding and provided habitat for migrating animals.

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, is of W̱SÁNEĆ descent and is optimistic about how the land is going to develop over time.

“We are going to learn with the land,” he said. “From the stories that we heard here today, it’s going to be an opportunity for us to get back and watch this place return to the what it wants to be.”

In the coming years, the WSANEC Lands Trust will work directly with the First Nation to restore the land by recreating its original soil and reintroducing native species.



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