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Tseycum on a journey home

Provincial grant of $200,000 will help a community heal
Tseycum First Nation band administrator Kristen Bill

The Tseycum First Nation received some exciting news last week in the form of a $200,000 grant from the province to put towards their Journey Home Cemetery.

During a traditional ceremony on Nov. 16 to re-erect a totem pole that had been previously damaged, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong spoke about the province’s commitment to working with Tseycum to protect their land — mainly the stretch of West Saanich Road that runs through the community and an ancient burial site that lies along the water’s edge.

“We understand the importance of Tseycum’s efforts to both repatriate their ancestors and bury their people with dignity,” said Chong.

This agreement is an opportunity to recognize the living history of the Tseycum First Nation on the Saanich Peninsula and to build a future based on respect and recognition,” said Chong.

After the ceremony, Chong and Tseycum Chief Tanya Jones signed a Reconciliation Agreement which states that the province will provide the Tseycum First Nation with the $200,000 grant. Of that money, Chong noted, $150,000 is designated for the Journey Home Cemetery and the re-internment of Tseycum First Nation ancestors. She also said the province will work together with Tseycum to establish a roadside landmark that acknowledges and honours the history of the nation’s people.

“It is a great honour for Tseycum to be a part of this event. It will be a day in history for (us). The next steps to move forward will continue to be our goal,” said Jones.

According to a press release, the province is also committed to further reconciliation efforts with Tseycum. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Tseycum have agreed to develop a plan for road improvements in the area that will benefit both the Tseycum community and the general public. $50,000 from the grant will be applied toward the cost of the ongoing engagements.

“The Tseycum have an important connection to the land and sea and this agreement honours that connection. I look forward to working with the Tseycum as we explore improvements along West Saanich Road,” said Mary Polak, minister of transportation and infrastructure.