July 11, 2018
Tsawout Chief and Council invite all relations in WSÁNEĆ and neighbouring communities to participate in the PADDLE FOR ȽEL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, in support of Tsawout’s claim to the island, also known as James Island.
The event is taking place on Sunday, September 2, 2018, beginning at 9:00 am at ȾIX̱EṈ (Cordova Spit) with a community breakfast, followed by a paddle around ȽEL¸TOS (James Island) and then a feast in the Tsawout Gymnasium.
The history of use and occupation is significant combined with significant archaeological history. The island was part of the homelands and provided a rich, productive way of life as it was well supplied with plantlife and surrounded by a rich variety of saltwater food supply (fish/shellfish). When it was taken over as part the war efforts it was still occupied and people felt that the island would be fully returned once it was no longer required. However the history shows that the Tsawout/WSÁNEĆ People were forced off the island and it then became privatized and was eventually sold.
In the past Tsawout has made overtures to have the island rightfully returned and it is hoped that this time justice will prevail and the island will be restored as part of the homelands.
The Paddle for ȽEL¸TOS will be hosted by Tsawout, facilitated by a number of neighbours/supporters/advocates on September 2. The event will kick off with a light 9:00 am breakfast on September 2. It is estimated that the paddle depending on currents/traffic should take about three hours. There may be some information booths on the beach but there will also be a Vendors Market at Tsawout Gymnasium with an Indigenous Tea Room in the Multipurpose Room opening at 10:00 am. At 2:00 pm there will also be a Celebratory Meal with invited speakers to speak on the significance of the island to Tsawout.
People are invited to participate in canoes, kayaks and other human-powered water craft. Space for youth, elders and others is available in support vessels and large canoes. People are also invited to join the events on shore.
“We invite all relations to join us in advancing our Treaty rights to ȽEL¸TOS,” says Chief Harvey Underwood. “We welcome community members and allies in WSÁNEĆ territory and neighbouring communities to join us for the paddle and events on shore.” Tsawout has asserted ownership of ȽEL¸TOS, which despite never being surrendered fell into private hands contrary to the Treaty and Crown policy.
Tsawout would like the Paddle event to be a fundraiser to assist with the research and legal work required for the claim and will be accepting donations prior to the event and at the event made out to TSAWOUT FIRST NATION with notation for “ȽEL¸TOS” (which can be mailed to Tsawout First Nation, 7728 Tetayut Road, Saanichton, BC V8M 2E4).
To join the Paddle for ȽEL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, sign up today at: http://www.TurningtheTide.ca/leltos.
Chief Harvey Underwood