On May 15th, 2024, Tsartlip First Nation hosted a long-awaited community event celebrating the return of MÁWUEĆ. 

Attendees were greeted by welcoming words from Curtis Elliott, and John Elliot, a prayer by Dan Sam, and enjoyed songs from the drumming group, refreshments, and a tour of the site. A special thank you to the speakers, drummers, and everyone who helped plan this event and make it possible!

Tsartlip is excited to finally acquire MÁWUEĆ and continue to remediate the land. This is a significant step towards supporting the needs of both current and future generations. 

The story of MÁWUEĆ, a traditional territory of the Tsartlip First Nation, is one of resilience and determination. Unceded land purchased by BC Housing without consultation in July 2018, sparked a journey of reclamation and revitalization. 


MÁWUEĆ, formerly known as Woodwynn Farm, is a 78-hectare (192-acre) parcel of land at 7779 West Saanich Road, just north of South Saanich IR 1. It is mostly agricultural land with some residential buildings and farming facilities. 

MÁWUEĆ is composed of lands that were originally part of the W̱JOȽEȽP village site and were used by the ancestors for hunting, gathering medicines, harvesting cedar, farming, and ancient ceremonial rites. The ḰENNES Creek also runs through the area. This is where Tsartlip ancestors would fish.

MÁWUEĆ is held as fee simple, which legally grants its owner full and irrevocable traditional property rights. MÁWUEĆ is currently zoned as part of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Until the land is officially “added to reserve”, there are limits as to how Tsartlip First Nation can use it. 

Tsartlip First Nation has already completed initial remediation efforts on certain areas of MÁWUEĆ that were contaminated. The Stewardship Department has been leading riparian restoration efforts at ḰENNES Creek.

The MÁWUEĆ Timeline

In July 2018, BC Housing’s sidestepping of Tsartlip First Nation in the purchase of MÁWUEĆ ignited a fight for recognition of historic use and claim to the land. Refusing to be silenced, Tsartlip entered into a settlement agreement with the Province of BC in 2020. This agreement paved the way for land acquisition, remediation, and, most importantly, community planning for the future of MÁWUEĆ.

So, with a clear vision in mind, Tsartlip undertook thorough due diligence, ensuring that the environmental, regulatory, and legal aspects of the land were well understood. Following this due diligence, a Tsartlip First Nation-owned corporation officially acquired MÁWUEĆ in December 2020. Wasting no time, environmental remediation efforts began in earnest throughout 2021. And, in May 2021, Tsartlip submitted an Addition-to-Reserve (ATR) proposal to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). This proposal formally requested MÁWUEĆ to be recognized as Tsartlip reserve land.

The momentum continued after ISC formally accepted the ATR proposal in September 2021. Currently, both ISC and Tsartlip are working collaboratively to finalize the ATR process. Adding MÁWUEĆ to the reserve is important in making sure that Tsartlip First Nation can make self-determined decisions on how the land is used. Tsartlip can only achieve this by removing the Provinces and Central Saanich’s ability to decide what actions can and cannot take place on MÁWUEĆ through their regulations and laws.

Parallel to the processes with ISC, Tsartlip First Nation is actively engaging with the community to shape the future vision of MÁWUEĆ. Restoration and environmental monitoring initiatives are also continuing, ensuring that the land is revitalized and can be used for generations to come.

Looking to the Future

While the land transfer process continues, the Tsartlip First Nation is actively engaging with the community, seeking input and ideas for the future vision of MÁWUEĆ. This collaborative approach ensures that the land serves the needs and aspirations of the Tsartlip people.

Once MÁWUEĆ becomes Tsartlip reserve land, the doors will open for Tsartlip to use and manage the land to best meet the community’s needs. This includes using it for food security efforts, cultural and traditional purposes like medicine gardens, housing initiatives, economic development, institutional purposes, and recreational purposes.

Tsartlip’s next steps for MÁWUEĆ include continuing ecological restoration initiatives, monitoring contamination on site, consulting the community on the vision of the future of MÁWUEĆ, finalizing the addition-to-reserve process, and advancing the community’s vision for the land.

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