Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse and Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, at the signing of the historic agreement, which will allocate 80.09 hectares of land (the “Camp Nanaimo Lands on Te’tuxwtun”) to be set aside as a reserve for the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Photo credit: Snuneymuxw First Nation

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On January 27, Chief Michael Wyse of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, celebrated the signing of a historic Interim Land Reconciliation Agreement, that will allocate 80.09 hectares of land (the “Camp Nanaimo Lands on Te’tuxwtun”) to be set aside as a reserve for the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

The “Camp Nanaimo Lands on Te’tuxwtun”, which is part of Snuneymuxw First Nation’s traditional territories, was used by Western Forest Products, the Department of National Defence, and as the location of the horrific Nanaimo Indian Hospital. Following this agreement, these lands will be remediated and rightfully returned to the Snuneymuxw People through the additions to the reserve process.

Snuneymuxw Chief and Council have progressive development plans for these lands, which will have great benefits for Snuneymuxw, the city of Nanaimo, and Vancouver Island University. This includes on-reserve housing, economic development, infrastructure upgrades and sustainable forestry projects, which all operate within the broader, interconnected Snuneymuxw territory.

In a press release, the Canadian Government says Canada embraces the goal of advancing this enduring Snuneymuxw vision, deepening its commitment to the ongoing collaborative process of reconciliation. This interim land reconciliation agreement is a tangible result of ongoing negotiations and an example of how Canada is working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to deliver results.

Chief Mike Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nation said, “In 2003, the government at the time identified the ‘Camp Nanaimo Lands on Te’tuxwtun’ for Snuneymuxw. We’ve been negotiating over this piece of land ever since. We fought for an agreement that accurately responds to the legal authority of our Snuneymuxw Saarlequun Treaty of 1854. We fought for a resolution that did not require the Nation to give up rights. Today, we celebrate reaching an agreement that honours our people and our pre-confederation treaty, the strongest agreement available to Canada.

“In 2009, my late mother, Chief Viola Wyse, was at the negotiating table alongside Counsellor William Yoachim and the late Dave Mannix. The government at that time was firm in its position: the former DND lands would never become additions to reserve land. Today, Snuneymuxw Council is honoured to finalize these additions to reserve land as a tribute to our Ancestors and as a commitment to serving our future generations. The path of reconciliation we are walking alongside Crown-Indigenous Relations has proven to be a positive way forward for our people and all connected to this sacred territory.

“Today is a profound step in a journey that will continue to see more milestones like this one. This is our legacy and our responsibility.”

Gary Anandasangaree, Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations said, “It is great to be in the community today, where we are celebrating the next step in returning these lands to Snuneymuxw First Nation. The return of the ‘Camp Nanaimo Lands on Te’tuxwtun’ has been a long and frustrating process, and we’re here today because of the tireless advocacy of generations of Snuneymuxw people. I am committed to being a partner in supporting Snuneymuxw’s vision of building a better future for the community and beyond.”

Former Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief and esteemed SFN Elder, Jerry Brown at the signing of the agreement. Photo credit: Snuneymuxw First Nation

Graphic provided by Snuneymuxw First Nation

Descriptions of the zones:

  1. Commemorative/Culture: This zone will be designated as a cultural/commemorative site that honours the history of this land. This could include: a commemorative work of art or plaque commemorating the work that went into securing this land; gathering spaces for community use; arts space; or a cultural centre. 
  2. Innovation: This zone contains a range of economic generators that benefit the Nation. One of these features is a “Business Innovation and Research Park”, which will support and develop local Snuneymuxw entrepreneurial pursuits, while attracting the brightest Indigenous entrepreneurs and thought leaders. This facility is being established by both Snuneymuxw and our economic development organization PDG (The Petroglyph Development Group). The goal in this zone, is to operate a wide range of uses and activities that create employment for members and other citizens.
  3. Residential (Mixed Use):
    Because housing is a priority for the Nation, this zone has been designated to provide housing in a variety of formats including single dwelling units, multi-units, townhomes etc.  That includes housing for Elders and Youth.
    There will be parts of this zone designated for member-only housing, and others for market housing.
    This may include student housing, as the DND Lands are located close to the Nanaimo VIU campus.
    This zone may also include areas like greenspace and parklands.
  4. Commercial:
    This zone will include a wide range of commercial uses, including several live-work commercial and residential areas.
  5. Park / Greenspace:
    Protecting and promoting green space is a priority for Snuneymuxw. As such, there will also be extensive parklands and greenspace throughout the development. These will protect the watercourses, wildlife corridors, significant trees and tree stands, and habitat areas. For example, other zones may also contain areas zoned Parks/Greenspace. 
  6. Highway Commercial:
    The plan for this zone, is to develop a range of “Comprehensive Highway Mixed Land Uses”, that will benefit the traveling public, tourists, and local citizens. This could include: a second Snuneymuxw fuel station, electric charging facilities, restaurants, hotel and casino, and rest areas.
  7. Health Centre:
    Health and wellness is one of the top priorities for Snuneymuxw. As such, this zone will contain a range of holistic health services that focus on the whole person (mental, physical, and spiritual). This will include medical service offices, clinics, care facilities, spiritual support sites, and healing centres. This would be in addition to the already existing Snuneymuxw Hulit Lelum Centre.  

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