Songhees, Esquimelt Nations acquire Rock Bay land from BC Hydro.

Songhees Chief Ronald Sam (from left), BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Reilly and Esquimalt Chief Robert Thomas sign papers at a ceremony to transfer 4.5 acres of land in Rock Bay to Matullia Holdings LP, which owns Esquimalt and Songhees. First Nations represent both. on site on Tuesday (July 26). (Everett Lundquist/News Staff)
Songhays Nation Dancers, Singers And Drummers Perform Their Victory Song And Celebration Song During A Ceremony To Mark The Transfer Of 4.5 Acres Of Land In Rock Bay From Bc Hydro To Matullia Holdings Lp On Tuesday (July 26).  (Everett Lundquist/News Staff)Songhays Nation dancers, singers and drummers perform their victory song and celebration song during a ceremony to mark the transfer of 4.5 acres of land in Rock Bay from BC Hydro to Matullia Holdings LP on Tuesday (July 26). (Everett Lundquist/News Staff)

BC Hydro signs over 4.5 acres of land to local First Nations in Rock Bay that served 90 years as a coal plant, in what the company’s CEO sees as a turning point for both reconciliation and climate change.

Matullia Holdings LP, formed in 2011 by the Esquimalt and Songhees nations to repurchase indigenous lands in Rock Bay, ended more than a decade of negotiations Tuesday afternoon (July 26) when the Esquimalt Chief Robert Thomas, Songhees Chief Ronald Sam and BC Hydro President Chris O. ‘Reilly signed documents to transfer ownership of the property on Pembroke and State Roads to the trustees.

Thomas credits the late Chiefs Andy Thomas (Esquimalt) and Robert Sam (Songhees) with originally transferring, restoring and rebuilding the land.

“Piece by piece, whether we have to buy it or by hook or by crook, we’re getting our land back, and that means a lot to our people,” he said. “It would be a beautiful thing for both countries to share the economic benefits of this land.”

From the 1860s to the 1950s, BC Hydro’s forerunners operated a coal plant on the land that helped power Victoria, but polluted the soil and made Rock Bay largely unusable for local First Nations. Made it.

BC Hydro has spent about $128 million since 1994 to remediate the land and remove about 20,000 dump trucks of contaminated sediment, and has worked since 2011 to relocate the property to Esquimalt and Songhees. .

Sam, inspired by the book he wrote for Songhay’s Wellness Center, said he looks forward to sitting down with representatives from both countries to determine their vision for the land.

O’Riley said the project is a symbol of how her work can advance reconciliation. He described Rock Bay, formerly one of B.C.’s most polluted industrial sites, as a metaphor for climate change and carbon overreliance, but said it was working toward a more sustainable and inclusive future. offers a good opportunity to

“I am very pleased that the transfer of these lands to the Songwes and Esquimelt nations will allow members of their communities to once again engage in culturally important activities,” he said, adding that it would contribute to the local economy. The character will also be strengthened.

The signing, facilitated by Gary Sam of the Songweese Nation, featured performances by dancers, singers and drummers from the Esquimelt and Songweese Nations, including the Songweese “Victory Song” and “Celebration Song” featuring Four generations were involved and embodied the emotions surrounding the transition. of the earth.

Even though her term ends in October, the Department of Planning, Finance and Parks and the city manager’s office will keep Esquimalt and the Songhees in “good hands” for land reclamation, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said.

“Our whole government is committed to working with your whole government to make your dreams come true and your dreams, and most importantly, the next seven generations of members of your community and All the best for the future.”

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Esquimelt Indigenous Songies Nation Victoria

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