Give the gift of #landback this holiday season
As the holiday season approaches, the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation has one wish at the top of their list: their traditional unceded lands returned.
(Thursday, December 14th 2023, Saanichton, BC) – In the spirit of giving and reconciliation, the W̱SÁNEĆ Land Trust Society (WLTS) Holiday Gift Giving Campaign is inviting settlers to participate in returning unceded territories to W̱SÁNEĆ communities for the first time in 150 years. Through donations from allies and community members across the country, the WLTS #landback campaign is working to re-establish access to traditional foods, medicines, and materials by restoring the sacred relationship between the W̱SÁNEĆ and their lands and their waters. With a goal of raising $10,000 by December 31, 2023, donations will be used to facilitate the return of ancestral lands on what is commonly known as the Saanich Peninsula and in the Gulf Islands, ensuring access for future generations of W̱SÁNEĆ.
“Land is really important to being able to grow as a community, to grow in our economies and to be doing it in a really sustainable way,” said Joni Olsen, W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council’s (WLC) Policy/Negotiation Manager.
Returning traditional lands is crucial to the cultural revitalization of W̱SÁNEĆ Nation. #landback provides housing security, environmental stewardship, access to traditional harvesting, the ability to engage in cultural practices, and much more for current and future generations of W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.
“I’d like settlers to know that it is really important to First Nations in general when land is returned,” said Gord Elliott, WLC co-founder and elected Councillor for Tsartlip First Nation. “You can’t take away people’s culture, land and their resources and expect them to thrive. In fact, it’s the opposite. You’ll see a lot of poverty and social issues that go along with that alienation from their traditional lands.”
In August 2023, W̱SÁNEĆ Nation (through the WLTS) made history by becoming the first Canadian Nation to receive land under the Ecological Gifts Program with the transfer of 45.7 acres of land in the heart of ȾIKEL (Maber Flats). Since the transfer, W̱SÁNEĆ has been working to restore this property and to return the peat bog at the site to its full capacity through an Indigenous, community-led restoration. This restoration will provide W̱SÁNEĆ with places to re-establish traditional harvesting practices, build connections to culture, exercise their rights and title and promote conservation through education.
The #landback Holiday Gift Giving Campaign allows settlers and community members to continue this important restoration work while showing their support for W̱SÁNEĆ culture.
All donations made through supportlandback.com are tax deductible and will be used by the WLTS to support land return and cultural restoration, including on projects to remediate polluted land and waters, restoring decades of environmental damage.
Under way until December 31, 2023, all those who donate to the WLTS through the #landback campaign will receive a card designed by a W̱SÁNEĆ artist that they can give as a thoughtful gift this holiday season. By supporting #landback, each donor takes a small step to right the wrongs of the past.
About the W̱SÁNEĆ Lands Trust Society
The W̱SÁNEĆ Lands Trust Society (WLTS) is a registered charity and approved Ecological Gifts Recipient, dedicated to providing a place for land to be returned for the benefit of W̱SÁNEĆ who were stripped of their lands. Although the main goals are to help future generations of W̱SÁNEĆ access land for cultural purposes and to positively impact the environment through W̱SÁNEĆ stewardship, the WLTS will also seek land back for collaborative projects such as community housing and economic development initiatives.
The WLC helped to establish the WLTS in 2021 and continues to be a proud supporter of the work it does on behalf of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Director of Operations, W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council
Phone: (778) 977-4342