ȾEL¸IȽĆ – Cordova Bay Ancestral Village Site

On My 14th, 2019, the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council facilitated a historic meeting that brought together W̱SÁNEĆ and District of Saanich leadership and communities to discuss the Cordova Bay Local Area Plan. Cordova Bay is an important place for W̱SÁNEĆ communities. 

Our historic village ȾEL¸IȽĆ is located at the heart of Cordova Bay, not far from the current Beach House Restaurant. This village, and the surrounding burial sites, harvesting areas were the centre of the South Saanich Treaty, signed in 1852.  At the meeting Dr. Brian Thom from the Anthropology Department at UVic shared about his research on Cordova Bay, which still has many of our ancestral places, Transformer sites, and ancient fish traps and canoe runs. 

Chief Harvey Underwood recalled histories of our communities camping and harvesting fish, crabs, shellfish and other foods. Eric Pelkey shared histories of how this place was the centre of the South Saanich treaty of 1852 which promised to set aside our village site, but was never fulfilled.  Simon Smith Jr. reminded us of the care and respect needed when dealing with our ancestors, which have often been disturbed by developments in Cordova Bay.

The meeting provided a place for our leadership and Elders to inform the District of Saanich on our values, histories, perspectives, and territories at this important site.  The Mayor Fred Haynes of Saanich and his entire council, all the heads of Saanich’s Departments, and their senior staff all attended the meeting, along with our Elders and invited community members.

We are looking forward to further consultations with our communities about how our histories and connections to ȾEL¸IȽĆ and Cordova Bay can be acknowledged and commemorated, and our treaty rights be recognized an implemented through the future Cordova Bay Local Area Plan.