Pacheedaht First Nation

Pacheedaht's (pronounced pah-chee-dah) main community is currently at the mouth of Gordon River near Port Renfrew, one of the four reserves which total about 180 hectares. Pacheedaht First Nation’s traditional territories extend from Point-No-Point, up the West Coast (including Pacheenah Bay) to Bonilla Point and from the mouth of the San Juan River to Todd Mountain, 42 kilometres inland.

The name "Pacheedaht" translates to English as "Children of the Sea Foam" and refers to their origin story. Pacheedaht First Nation share a language and some cultural practices with the Nuu-chah-nulth nations, however they are not a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

Pacheedaht and Ditidaht ancestors lived together as one tribe at an origin village located on the river whose native name is Diitiida. If you look for the name Diitiida on a map today, you won't find it, since most of the Pacheedaht names for places have been replaced by English place names. The river the Pacheedaht call Diitiida is marked as "Jordan River" on modern maps. Today they are negotiating a modern treaty with Ditidaht First Nation.

Pacheedaht First Nation’s government is made up of a chief and two councillors, with elections held every two years. They have over 270 members and operate a campground near Port Renfrew.

T’Sou-ke Nation

(From T'Sou-ke website) In the SENĆOŦEN language, the word T'Sou-ke is the name of the Stickleback fish that live in the estuary of the river. Exposure to Europeans through the Hudson's Bay Company saw the name changed first to Soke and then Sooke. That English name is now common and is used for many things including the name of the neighbouring town, the river and basin, and the main road.

The two T'Sou-ke reserves are on 67 hectares (165 acres) around the Sooke Basin on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The reserves were allotted by the Joint Reserve Commission in 1877. Most community members live on the southern 41-hectare reserve while the band administration offices are on the 26-acre reserve along the main road between Sooke and Victoria.

In recent years the T’Sou-ke Nation has become a leader in community-based-renewable energy and food security. Every house on the reserve is now equipped with solar panels and many also have solar thermal hot water heaters.

T’Sou-ke Nation is governed by a chief and two councillors. Elections are held every two years in February on even-numbered years.

A party to the original Douglas Treaties in 1850, T'Sou-ke is now negotiating a new treaty as part of the Te'mexw treaty association. They recently signed their agreement in principle in 2015.

Scia'new (Beecher Bay) First Nation

(From the Te'mexw Treaty Association website) The Scia'new First Nations, now located mainly on the shores of Beecher Bay, have inhabited the shores of Vancouver Island for millenia. The word "Scia'new" (pronounced CHEA-nuh) translates from the Klallum language as "the place of the big fish", indicating the richness of the sea life in the region that sustains the Scia'new and neighbouring First Nation communities with food, shelter, medicine and clothing.

Part of the The Scia'new trace their ancestry to people who spoke four different languages. The community recognizes all four languages although they are not all currently spoken. The predominant language still spoken within the community is Hul'q'umi'num', a part of the large Salish family of languages. As with other First Nation names in the region, the place name "Scia'new" identifies what the inhabitants needed to know about the locale. For example, nearby Race Rocks was called Xwayen, or the place of Swift Water.

The Scia'new First Nations' main community is on Beecher Bay, in East Sooke, 30 km southwest of Victoria. The Scia'new lands also include Fraser Island, Lamb Island, Long-neck Island, Twin Island, Village Island, and Whale Island. Today, the Scia'new community continues to apply their long knowledge of environmental management in sharing their land and marine resources. Both the Scia'new marina and campground are community-managed. As well, Scia'new youth and elders are working together to create a cultural renaissance, partaking in inter-tribal games and 'big canoe' tribal journeys.

Scia'new First Nation is party to the Douglas Treaties and is negotiating a modern treaty as a member of the Te'mexw treaty nations through the BC treaty process.

Scia'new First Nation is governed by a chief and two councillors and also incorporates traditional leadership components including elders and the hereditary chief. Elections are held every two years in October on odd-numbered years.

Esquimalt Nation

Esquimalt Nation are the ancestors of the Lekwungen speaking people who occupied much of Greater Victoria for thousands of years before the land was settled by Europeans. In addition to referring to their language, Lekwungen also refers to the land and means "the place where the herring fish are smoked."

The Lekwungen peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1850 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

The main Esquimalt Nation community straddles the municipalities of Esquimalt and View Royal, roughly five kilometres from Victoria and lies next to the Songhees reservation, covering an area of approximately 18 hectares. The Esquimalt Nation has roughly 300 members. They are a Douglas Treaty nation with traditional territory extending throughout Greater Victoria and the San Juan Islands.

The Esquimalt Nation is governed by a hereditary chief and appointed council. Elders and the Heads of Families (of which there are five) assist the Chief and Council. The elders and Heads of the Families provide a forum for discussion providing advice on important matters facing the nation. Esquimalt has a custom election code and no longer follows the governance model prescribed in the Federal Indian Act.

Songhees Nation

The Songhees Nation are the ancestors of the Lekwungen speaking people who occupied much of Greater Victoria for thousands of years before the area was settled by Europeans. In addition to referring to their language, Lekwungen also refers to the land and means "the place where the herring fish are smoked".

The main Songhees Nation community straddles the municipalities of Esquimalt and View Royal, five kilometres from Victoria. The Songhees Nation has four reserves totalling 138.1 hectares and has over 550 members. Historically the original site of the Songhees Reservation was located in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, around the area of current day Songhees point and was moved in 1911. They are a Douglas Treaty nation with traditional territory extending throughout Greater Victoria and the San Juan Islands and are one of the Te'mexw nations negotiating a treaty through BC's treaty process. Songhees Nation is governed by one chief and five councillors.

The Songhees Nation recently completed construction of their Wellness Centre which acts as a resource and health centre for their community as well as a conference centre for use by the wider public.

For more information you can access their website at:

MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) Nation

MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) Nation's main reserve is located near Mill Bay, BC, approximately 40 kilometres northwest of Victoria. MÁLEXEȽ is one of the First Nations that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. W̱SÁNEĆ means "the emerging people" in SENĆOŦEN, a W̱SÁNEĆ language, referring to an ancient story of a great flood the land emerged from. SENĆOŦEN is one of several languages the W̱SÁNEĆ people traditionally spoke in order to communicate with other Nations. They have occupied the Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and surrounding area for thousands of years. W̱SÁNEĆ refers to the people as well as the land and is where the english derivation of "Saanich" comes from.

The W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1852 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

MÁLEXEȽ means "caterpillar" in SENĆOŦEN, referring to a historical infestation of tent caterpillars in the area.

The main Malahat reserve is 237 hectares and located outside of the CRD. They also have joint control of a smaller, unpopulated 4.8 hectare reserve at Goldstream within the CRD. Malahat nation has roughly 350 members. They are a party to the Douglas Treaty and are negotiating a modern treaty as one of the Te'mexw nations through the BC treaty process.

Malahat Nation is governed by a chief and three councillors. Elections are held every two years in January on even-numbered years.

BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) First Nation

BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) First Nation is one of the First Nations that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. W̱SÁNEĆ means "the emerging people" in SENĆOŦEN, a W̱SÁNEĆ language, referring to an ancient story of a great flood the land emerged from. SENĆOŦEN is one of several languages the W̱SÁNEĆ people traditionally spoke in order to communicate with other Nations. They have occupied the Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and surrounding area for thousands of years. W̱SÁNEĆ refers to the people as well as the land and is where the english derivation of "Saanich" comes from.

The W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1852 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

Most Pauquachin community members live at BOḰEĆEN meaning an "earth bluff" in SENĆOŦEN and is its main village site. Pauquachin has two reserves totalling 321 hectares as well as joint control of a 4.8-hectare reserve at Goldstream. Pauquachin has around 450 members and is governed by a Chief and 4 Councillors that are elected every 2 years.

W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartip) First Nation

W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartip) First Nation is one of the First Nations that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. W̱SÁNEĆ means "the emerging people" in SENĆOŦEN, a W̱SÁNEĆ language, referring to an ancient story of a great flood the land emerged from. SENĆOŦEN is one of several languages the W̱SÁNEĆ people traditionally spoke in order to communicate with other Nations. They have occupied the Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and surrounding area for thousands of years. W̱SÁNEĆ refers to the people as well as the land and is where the english derivation of "Saanich" comes from.

The W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1852 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

W̱JOȽEȽP means "land of maples" in SENĆOŦEN and became a village site after a previous village at SṈIDȻEȽ (Todd Inlet) was moved. W̱JOȽEȽP First Nation's main reserve is located on the Saanich Peninsula near Brentwood Bay. In addition to the band office and community facilities, the band is home to the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School which offers education from preschool to high school and adult education. Here at ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱, students have the opportunity to learn SENĆOŦEN and W̱SÁNEĆ teachings alongside their curriculum.

W̱JOȽEȽP First Nation is governed by a chief and ten councillors and has over 1000 members.

You can learn more about Tsartlip First Nation from their website:

SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout) First Nation

SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout) First Nation (pronounced say-out) is one of the five bands that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples along with W̱JOȽEȽP, W̱SĺḴEM, BOḰEĆEN and MÁLEXEȽ Nations. W̱SÁNEĆ means "the emerging people" in SENĆOŦEN, a W̱SÁNEĆ language, referring to an ancient story of a great flood the land emerged from. SENĆOŦEN is one of several languages the W̱SÁNEĆ people traditionally spoke in order to communicate with other Nations. They have occupied the Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and surrounding area for thousands of years. W̱SÁNEĆ refers to the people as well as the land and is where the english derivation of "Saanich" comes from.

The W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1852 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

SȾÁUTW̱ means "houses on top" in SENĆOŦEN as this was the view coming in from the ocean and is still a village site today. Tsawout has six reserves totalling 419 hectares. The two largest are Saturna Island No. 7 (145.7 hectares) and Tsawout’s main reserve, East Saanich No. 2 (237.7 hectares) which is located in Saanichton Bay, 15 minutes north of Victoria and is Tsawout’s main population and service centre. Their administration building has a gymnasium, kitchen and office space as well as a newly built greenhouse. Tsawout is also home to a rare dune ecosystem, ȾIX̱EṈ - meaning "spit" in SENĆOŦEN.

Tsawout has a population of approximately 900 members and is governed by a chief and eight councillors with elections held every two years.

W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum) First Nation

W̱SĺḴEM (Tseycum) First Nation is one iof the First Nations that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. W̱SÁNEĆ means "the emerging people" in SENĆOŦEN, a W̱SÁNEĆ language, referring to an ancient story of a great flood the land emerged from. SENĆOŦEN is one of several languages the W̱SÁNEĆ people traditionally spoke in order to communicate with other Nations. They have occupied the Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and surrounding area for thousands of years. W̱SÁNEĆ refers to the people as well as the land and is where the english derivation of "Saanich" comes from.

The W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are descendants of the original signatories to the Douglas Treaties in 1852 which protects their village sites and the rights to hunt and fish as formerly. While the written text of the document identifies a transfer of land, the oral history describes a peace agreement between two societies. The implications of this treaty are still emerging today.

W̱SĺḴEM meaning "land of clay" in SENĆOŦEN is governed by a chief and two councillors. Elections are held every two years and they have around 200 members.The primary reserve is located on West Saanich Road just north of the Victoria International Airport in Patricia Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. In addition to the 28 hectares reserve they also have shared control over another four reserves totalling about 164 hectares.