Historic and Modern Treaties
First Nations located in the south island have a unique treaty relationship with the Crown. Unlike First Nations across Canada who signed treaties with the British Crown, most of the First Nations in British Columbia never formally ceded their land to the Crown. Eight of the First Nations with Reserve lands in the CRD have 1852 Douglas Treaties (Pacheedaht First Nation is not a Douglas Treaty signatory nor is Penelekut Tribe). The terms of the Douglas Treaty are hotly debated to this day, with some contending the treaty was a land purchase and long-term use agreement, while others argue the treaty was a peace accord. For historic, legal, economic, moral and practical reasons, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada began a modern day treaty making process in 1990. It is an interest-based negotiation process which seeks to establish certainty over lands where First Nations claim title.
Of the 10 First Nations who have Reserve lands in the CRD, 5 are negotiating modern treaties (known as BC Treaties) with the Crown (Pacheedaht, T'Sou-ke, S'cia-new, Songhees and Malahat).
A treaty is a legal and constitutionally binding agreement outlining the rights, responsibilities and authorities the respective parties have over areas including, but not limited to, land ownership, governance, wildlife and environmental management, financial benefits and taxation.
A treaty is also a "full and formal expression of reconciliation between First Nations and Federal and Provincial governments". As modern treaties are finalized and implemented across the province, local government and BC Treaty First Nations will have clearly defined structures for how their neighbouring governments work together in managing shared resources. Modern Treaty First Nations can also become full members of regional districts.
You can learn more at BC Treaty Commission and the respective treaty groups:
The Douglas Treaties, also known as the Vancouver Island Treaties, were signed between 1850 and 1854 by James Douglas, chief factor of Fort Victoria and governor of the colony of Vancouver Island.
There were 14 treaties signed with aboriginal people around Victoria, Saanich, Sooke, Nanaimo and Port Hardy and covers approximately 927 square kilometres. All of the First Nations with land in the CRD other than Pacheedaht First Nation and Penelakut Tribe are signatories to the Douglas treaties.
Under the Douglas Treaties, First Nations have retained the right to fish and hunt as formerly. The Douglas Treaties have held up as treaties in court and have successfully been used to uphold the rights of First Nations. The Tsawout First Nation used the Douglas treaty in court to obtain a permanent injunction on the construction of a marina in Saanichton Bay.
More information about the Douglas treaties can be found at the following locations:
Four First Nations whose territories the CRD resides on are going through the BC Treaty Process as a group called Te’mexw Treaty Association.
Scia'new (Beecher Bay) First Nation, Songhees Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation and Malahat Nation all have reserve lands within the CRD, Snawnaw-as Nation from Nanoose Bay is also a part of the association, but its reserve land is not within the boundaries of the CRD.
These nations entered the treaty process in July 1995 and are in the fourth stage of the six-stage process, negotiating their Agreement in Principle, as of early 2015. This process can often take many years to complete.
The Te'mexw nations recently signed Incremental Treaty Agreements which granted parcels of land to each Nation as an effort to assist in the treaty negotiation process with offers of partial settlements.
The nations involved are also beneficiaries of the Douglas Treaties addressing land and harvesting rights. These current treaties cover a wide range of other issues including but not limited to self-governance, land, resources and fiscal matters.
For more information you can go to:
Pacheedaht First Nation entered the BC Treaty Process in 1996. They are currently in Stage 4 of the BC Treaty Process as of 2014. Pacheedaht First Nation was not part of the Douglas Treaties.
In March of 2013, Pacheedaht First Nation signed an Incremental Treaty Agreement granting them a parcel of land in the Port Renfrew area.
Pacheedaht are co-negotiating a treaty with Ditidaht First Nation through the BC Treaty Process.
You can find more information here: