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Tsawout First Nation buys 100 acres to spur cultural and economic revitalization

Puckle Road property grows land base and brings more opportunities, First Nation says
Tsawout First Nation has bought nearly 100 acres of land in what the community called a significant step.

STAUTW (Tsawout) First Nation will now have more land available for community growth and development after it bought nearly 100 acres of property adjacent to the community's main village.

The acquisition marks a significant step forward for the First Nation and for generations to come, Chief Abraham Pelkey said in a news release on Monday (June 17).

"For STAUTW First Nation, land acquisition opportunities are a catalyst for change, enhancing opportunities for cultural revitalization and economic development – both of which require a sufficient land base,” Pelkey said. 

The 99.17-acre Puckle Road property increases the First Nation's land base by 15 per cent, to a total of almost 700 acres. The property's owner offered the land at a below-market rate by out of a personal act of reconciliation. 

The Tsawout community is celebrating the return of land to its peoples, Elder Mavis Underwood said. 

"This land was used by our ancestors for hunting, harvesting, gathering medicines and other cultural and spiritual practices," The elder said. "Displacement disrupted our way of life and economy, eroding traditional governance and land management systems. Reclaiming our land is crucial to cultural revitalization and ensuring a bright future for our youth.”

The First Nation is holding a celebration and blessing of the land on June 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 7245 Puckle Road. 

Tsawout has also launched a new protocol and policy on consultation and relationship-building that will provide direction and guidance to governments and others.

Chrissy Chen, the First Nation's principal negotiator said consultation and engagement must be guided by Tsawout peoples' Indigenous laws, practises and traditions.

"The consultation protocol not only confirms the process for consultation but also provides the reader with a baseline understanding of STAUTW’s inherent rights and obligations to STAUTW territory," Chen said in the news release. 

The land acquisition and the new consultation protocol are key components of the First Nation's Land Back strategy. Land Back advocates for the return of land currently held by governments or private entities to Indigenous Peoples and also refers to the recognition of Indigenous land rights. 

"Reconciliation and implementation of the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Peoples cannot happen without Land Back," said Tsawout band manager Christine Bird. "This is only the beginning of the conversation about what needs to change to ensure that land governance systems recognize and uphold Indigenous rights and jurisdiction."