Map showing a small parcel of land in SOuthern Cortes Island

SRD territorial acknowledgements; Should Tla’amin be included? 

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) officially recognizes 10 First Nations within their boundaries, but the Tla’amin are not among them. 

While Mansons Landing and Marina Island are both within their traditional area, the Tla’amin First Nation ceded their claim to most of this area when they signed a treaty in 2014. They retain a small parcel on Cortes Island, and thus still possess land within the SRD.

This question was part of a larger discussion at the inaugural meeting of the SRD’s First Nations committee, on Wednesday Jan 25. 

Tla’amin land just north of Powell River, in qathet Regional District – Photo by David Stanley via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

SRD staff suggested that the following acknowledgement be used for written communications within their area: 

The Strathcona Regional District respectfully acknowledges that our corporate office and the Strathcona Garden Recreational Complex are located on the traditional unceded territory of the Liqʷiłdax̌ʷ people. We also recognize that we operate within the traditional, treaty and unceded territories of the Ehattesaht, Homalco, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che: k’tles7et’h’, Klahoose, K’omoks, Mowachaht–Muchalaht, Nuchatlaht, Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations.” 

Mark Vonesch (Regional Director for Cortes Island):“ I’m just curious about the territorial acknowledgement, why Tla’amin wasn’t included? … There is reserved land on the south end of Cortes. It’s called Paukeanum #3 and jurisdiction code 772. On the SRD maps it says it’s Tla’amin Nation. I would like that to be included, unless I’m wrong in some way.” 

Renee LaBoucane (Manager of Strategic Initiatives): “I’d have to do some more research on that. They are not one of the 10 First Nations that we have worked with in the past, but I know that we’ve had some initial discussions with them over the Connected Coast project.”

Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis (Newly elected Vice Chair of the First Nations Committee): I just wanted to speak to the territorial acknowledgements as written here. I found them a bit wordy. 

Robyn Mawhinney (Regional Director for Area C): “I think it’s really important that we acknowledge that the lands we live and work on are the traditional unceded lands of First Nations.”

“The Strathcona Regional District is a large region. It’s a construct which encompasses many nation’s territories. Since I’ve joined the board, I’ve been encouraged to ‘think regionally as well as for the benefit of Area C’ and I’m mentioning that because when I read the territorial acknowledgement I wondered about switching around the two phrases and beginning by acknowledging the many nations on whose territories we operate and completing the statement with the special acknowledgement of the location of the corporate office and recreation complex. So I would maybe recommend that it read something more like the Strathcona Regional District respectfully acknowledges we operate within the traditional treaty and unceded territories of —  and then the list of them and add the specific acknowledgement of where our corporate office is after that.” 

“I do have one other question regarding the acknowledgement. It’s meant to be on written materials. I’m curious if that would include business cards, because that seems like a lot of words for something like that.”

David Leitch (Chief Administrative Officer):“The committee is happy to make any decisions, changes, alterations they want to. Just some background on how we’ve come up with that. This was in consultation with the First Nations:with Chiefs, councils, discussions with various members of the nations. What we do is we take those discussions and then we present what they would collectively like us to say. That’s not to say you can’t make changes in recommendations to them, but this is the work of our coordinator who has come forward and said, ‘this is what the Nation’s support.’”

Robyn Mawhinney: “So does that mean that the 10 listed Nations in this territorial acknowledgement all agreed that it would be important to prioritize the Liqʷiłdax̌ʷ and the Campbell River Bands, because of where our office is?” 

Renee LaBoucane: “No, I consulted with the core territory that we are on in Campbell River. This is Liqʷiłdax̌ʷ  territory. It would have been very onerous for me to consult with every First Nation, although in my consultation with very respected elders and community members, I was advised to make an acknowledgement on the core territory that this office is, at the same time acknowledging the other ten First Nations where the SRD has administrative boundaries. No, I did not consult with the other ten First Nations, but I do want to acknowledge them respectfully in this acknowledgement.”

Kevin Jules (representative of Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’ / Che: k’tles7et’h First Nations from the west coast of Vancouver Island; newly elected Chair of the First Nations Committee): “I think the acknowledgement is great. I think it’s an amazing step forward  in reconciliation and I think it’s something that should be practiced at every one of our meetings and has been at our Strathcona level meetings.”

Mark Vonesch:“Just following up on the Tla’amin Nation, do I need to make a motion to have that included in the acknowledgement? I’m looking for advice on how to include that as well.”

David Leitch: “I am not trying to sway the committee in any way, but I think we should be cautious about amending an acknowledgement that our liaison has consulted with the core First Nations on, and we just make changes to it.  That may not be seen as respectful.  I’m not saying there can’t be the opportunity to, but  I would think that would be something that we would want to consult with the Nations and research before we just add Nations.” 

Mayor Kermit Dahl of Campbell River: “I pretty much wanted to say the same thing as what Dave said. I think it would be disrespectful to do anything other than the motion as it’s written and then if we want to add another Nation, we go back to the Nations that are on there and make sure that they’re all comfortable with that.  I know for developing our statement for City Hall that there’s feelings between one Nation to another and they need to be considered. I think before we make a decision on who should be added, that should be asked from the people whose territory it is. Maybe there’s a reason that Tla’amin isn’t recognized. Maybe it was an oversight, but I would say we should go with what’s there and then make an amendment later.” 

Martin Davis: “I will move that we defer this pending further consultations with the First Nations, including Tla’amin First Nation.”

Mayor Julie Colborne of Zeballos: “I’ll second that.”

The motion carried, with no opposing votes.

Top photo credit: Map showing the small parcel of land Tla’amin First Nation retained through the 2014 treaty – adapted from Google Maps

Sign-up for Cortes Currents email-out:

To receive an emailed catalogue of articles on Cortes Currents, send a (blank) email to subscribe to your desired frequency: