Living on these lands since time immemorial, the Songhees Nation continues to be a voice of leadership and strength in the region.
In April, the Nation launched its first cannabis shop, Songhees Cannabis S + S in Esquimalt. It was quickly followed by Seed & Stone – Songhees Edition in downtown Victoria in June and a third location is expected to open in the Bay Centre this summer.
“Having this cannabis store here gives our people an option to shop and support our community, support our members, support our economic success here in our community,” Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam said, speaking with Black Press Media in April.
Parked outside the Esquimalt location at 1502 Admirals Rd. is another of the Nation’s business successes.
Launched in 2016, the Songhees Food Truck gives a taste of upscaled traditional Indigenous cuisine. Bison, bannock, wild sockeye salmon and saskatoon berry sauce all draw from foods native to the land and the Lekwungen People who first dwelled here.
It’s not only a business but a means of celebrating and preserving Indigenous culture.
The Songhees Indigenous Marine Trail will soon be another way for the Nation to share its history and culture. Receiving a $637,900 provincial boost in March, the trail will run guided tours around the Greater Victoria coastline, highlighting a dozen shoreline sites significant to the Songhees People.
“I can’t wait to tell these stories and show people that every little blade of grass or stone has a story. Everything matters to us,” Cecilia Dick, cultural tourism supervisor for the Songhees Nation, said speaking with Black Press Media in March.
Tours are expected to begin in 2022.
The Signs of Lekwungen
A different, self-guided tour of landmarks significant to the Songhees People, originally the Lekwungen People, already exists.
Created in 2008 by Coast Salish artist and master carver Butch Dick, The Signs of Lekwungen consists of seven site markers along the Inner Harbour and downtown Victoria. Each of the 1,000-pound bronze markers depicts a place of cultural significance. The Lower Causeway, for example, used to house some of the best clam beds on the coast and was used as one end of a canoe portage.
The heart of the Songhees Nation’s support and success was completed in 2014. The Songhees Wellness Centre was the result of more than 30 years of planning and today features an elders centre, a youth centre, education services, a health centre, sports facilities, a gallery cafe and an industrial kitchen, among other things.
It is a place for the community to gather and connect with their culture. The same year it opened, the centre won the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Judges Choice and Community Building awards.
In 2019, the Songhees Nation won the Award for Innovation and Community Partnership.
Countless Songhees athletes, artists and leaders continue to pave the way for innovation, healing and success.
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