The return of James Island to the Tsawout First Nation is a years-long story turned legal claim and the Nation is holding an event to draw awareness to the issue and raise funds for the legal costs of their ongoing bid to reclaim it.
In January, the Tsawout – through the DGW Law Corporation – sued Canada and British Columbia for the return of the 330-hectare island, alleging it was part of the 1852 Douglas treaties guaranteeing them their land.
However, the government of the day subdivided and sold the land which has since been the site of a private hunting reserve, a manufacturing facility for explosives and most recently the private playground of billionaire Craig McCaw.
The Tsawout, who call the island LEL’TOS, have burial grounds there as well as sites where they have fished, hunted and gathered food and medicinal plants for thousands of years.
The island is located near Sidney, directly across from what is today the Tsawout reserve, and has been assessed at $54 million. In 2014, McCaw listed the island for sale for $75 million.
The Nov. 29 event at the auditorium on Tsawout First Nation will be an evening of knowledge-sharing by the community exploring Tsawout culture, arts and traditions as well as explaining the ownership of LEL’TOS.
Tickets are by donation with a suggested minimum of $10 and 50/50 tickets will be available as well as raffles and gift basket draws with 100 perc ent of the profits benefiting the legal claim.