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WSANEC Leadership Council, District of Saanich look to improve relations

MOU intended to encourage reconciliation, create more meaningful interactions
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes (from left), Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom, and Tsawout First Nation Chief Harvey Underwood signed a memorandum of understanding between the nations and the municipality on Friday (Dec. 3). (Photo courtesy of the District of Saanich)

A Memorandum of Understanding signed Friday (Dec. 3) by the WSANEC Leadership Council and the District of Saanich aims to emphasize a deepened commitment to reconciliation and collaboration.

Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom called the memorandum, referred to as ATOL,NEUEL (respecting one another), a first step toward improving relations.

“The District of Saanich get their name from our people, and they make decisions about our lands and water without our participation. This MOU is a first step toward changing this relationship and creating a welcoming feeling for WSANEC people in our homelands,” Tom said in a release. “We look forward to the exciting and difficult conversations ahead knowing that the District of Saanich is working, in good faith, toward our shared goals of reconciliation.”

The document is a representation of commitment by the WSANEC leaders and Saanich to develop respect, cooperation and partnership when addressing mutual interests and priorities.

Mayor Fred Haynes later told Black Press Media the protection of the land and living in harmony to secure future generations is of utmost importance.

“The purpose of the MOU is to ensure a clear understanding of government-to-government relations,” he said. “Through this improved understanding, we can better give WSANEC people a voice.”

Key areas of interest and priority for both councils are recognition of rights, history and culture, addressing environmental concerns, protecting ancestral sites, further work on public art and education projects and other collaborative efforts.

The WSANEC Leadership Council identified other areas of importance such as Saanich’s recognition of Douglas Treaty rights and the oral history of the Douglas Treaties, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

ALSO READ: Saanich council aims to create more meaningful relations with Indigenous communities

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