The Douglas Treaties have stood up well in court but the fact remains that the rights to hunt and fish are severely compromised by urban developments. Further, it is a widespread shameful pattern that the government went out of its way to reduce the sizes of the few, small reserves that were established and to eliminate some altogether. It is very welcome to see the strong assertion of the Songhees Nation that they have the rights to 200 acres surrounding Cadboro Bay.
Lawyer Rory Morahan said the band is not trying to reclaim the land promised to it in one of the Douglas Treaties, but is asking for compensation and a declaration that it is Songhees land.
A statement of claim was filed in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, but it is likely to be at least a year before the case is heard.
The key to launching the lawsuit was finding historical documents, Morahan said. “There’s oral tradition about the village site, but in the courts you need more than oral tradition. We have been working on this for about a year, getting the details down,” he said.
The treaty with the Chekonein people, ancestors of the Songhees Nation, specifies that they would have 200 acres (80 hectares) around their Cadboro Bay village site, adjacent to the beach, and about 40 acres (16 hectares) of camas and potato fields.
“Under the treaty, the Songhees ancestors were promised that their village sites and fields would be protected for their use and the use of future generations, and that their villages and fields would be properly surveyed,” Morahan said.
Clearly, the Songhees are not asking for the land to be returned, but for compensation for its unlawful and duplicitous preemption. The were successful in obtaining compensation a couple of years ago for the land under the legislative assembly, ironically enough and I imagine they have a good chance of success with this case as well. There is certainly an inarguable case for the archaeological significance of Cadboro Bay.
The comments in the Times-Colonist article are some of the most pathetic, racist, ignorant drivel I have ever seen, though.