First Nations Relations

The District of Saanich is within Coast and Straits Salish territory, the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples known today as Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples known today as W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip), BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin), SȾÁUTW̱  (Tsawout), W̱SIḴEM (Tseycum) and MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat) Nations.  The First Peoples have been here since time immemorial and their history in this area is long and rich.

The District of Saanich is proud that our name is derived from the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.  Saanich Council is committed to taking a leadership role in the process of healing wounds of the past and becoming a more just, fair and caring society.

Pathway to Truth and Reconciliation

On November 27, 2017, Saanich Council received a staff report outlining the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action and passed a motion to commence formal government-to-government relationships with the District of Saanich’s neighbouring First Nation governments: Songhees, Esquimalt, W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip), BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin), SȾÁUTW̱  (Tsawout), W̱SIḴEM (Tseycum) and MÁLEXEȽ (Malahat). Staff were given authority to implement projects and initiatives that improve government-to-government relationships where no additional costs or resources are required.

First Nations interdepartmental working group

Council’s motion of November 27, 2017 included direction to create a staff First Nations interdepartmental working group. The working group was asked to report back to Council on their assessment of the June 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “Calls to Action” Report with potential initiatives for the District of Saanich to explore.

The Staff report September 21, 2018 included the following initial actions:

  • Cultural safety and humility training for Council and staff
  • Building formal government-to-government relationships
  • Presenting a more “welcoming face” by creating a First Nations Relations web page, and installing welcome signage at all Saanich recreation facilities in SENĆOŦEN and Lekwungen languages.

Council endorsed these recommendations on October 1, 2018.

In the 2019 Budget, Council approved an annual budget of $10,000 for initiatives and programs identified by the interdepartmental working group and approved by Council.

Going forward

Reconciliation is more than a ceremonial acknowledgement of our territories. It is an opportunity to learn the true history of this area, and acknowledge the unjust treatment of the people whose lands we occupy.

The process forward will take patience as we take a hard look at our colonial past and work toward decolonization and reconciliation with the W̱SÁNEĆ, Lekwungen, and Urban Indigenous.

The District of Saanich acknowledges the support provided by the Capital Regional District First Nations Relations division.