Ts’uubaa-asatx First Nation has doubled its lands with the transfer of a 31-hectare parcel of Crown land back to the Nation.
The land transfer, which is considered a key reconciliation milestone that creates community and economic development opportunities for Ts’uubaa-asatx and the surrounding communities, was announced at a ceremony on the shores of Cowichan Lake on Friday, July 7.
Ts’uubaa-asatx Chief Melanie Livingstone and Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, were joined by community members to sign an Incremental Treaty Agreement to return the culturally significant land.
The land, located near Ts’uubaa-asatx’s community reserve and Cowichan Lake, is valued at approximately $1.6 million.
The transfer marks an incremental step that advances treaty-related benefits prior to a final agreement.
Aaron Hamilton, the First Nation’s operations manager, said the land transfer comes after many years of negotiations with the province.
“It took a long time to get here, but our perseverance came through to get to this point,” he said.
“We faced a lot of challenges and it took a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to get it done, and we appreciate the support of government ministers and their staffs. We’re excited to take the next steps and continue what we have started.”
Livingstone said the land will become critical to Ts’uubaa-asatx’s further economic, recreational and socio-economic priorities, which are regularly updated in the First Nation’s comprehensive community development plan.
“Ts’uubaa-asatx is looking forward to master planning these lands to see how they fit within the regional context of development,” she said.
Rankin said the partnership approach that has been taken to identify and reach agreement on the land transfer is a substantive step on the path toward long-lasting reconciliation between the province and the First Nation.
“We look forward to building on this agreement as we continue to work collaboratively with Ts’uubaa-asatx in the years to come,” he said.
“In addition, the agreement and land transfer provide real foundations for the Nation to further participate in the regional economy and to advance its social, cultural and economic development objectives.”
Aaron Stone, chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, said the district is thankful to see the progress being made between Ts’uubaa-asatx and government on the path to treaty.
“The community and economic opportunities created by this land transfer is another step in the long journey of reconciliation for Ts’uubaa-asatx people,” he said.