Vancouver Island Treaties
(also known as the Douglas Treaties and the Fort Victoria Treaties)

Originally a website to support the conference First Nations, Land, and James Douglas: Indigenous and Treaty Rights in the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia,1849-1864 held at the Songhees Wellness Centre in Victoria, February 24-26th 2017, this is now a resource centre for information about the fourteen Vancouver Island Treaties made between 1850-1854, sometimes also called the Douglas Treaties or Fort Victoria Treaties.

On the Treaties tab you will find an introduction to the treaties, a treaty timeline, and a pdf from the BC Archives containing copies of the treaties themselves and full transcripts. You will also find a translation of two of the treaties into the Lekwungen language of the Songhees and Esquimalt peoples and an account of the treaty in the SENĆOŦEN language of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) people, and its English translation.

The Presentations tab offers video summaries of the main conference presentations. A book of essays arising from the conference is in preparation.

On the Gallery page are photos of the February 2017 gathering and on the Comments page you will be able to read and provide feedback about the conference and this website.

Finally, the Resources link provides as full a set of sources on the Vancouver Island treaties as we have been able to assemble, including the known primary sources including oral histories, and the main secondary sources.

Although these are sometimes called the Douglas Treaties or the Fort Victoria Treaties we prefer the name Vancouver Island Treaties because they are stated to be agreements between James Douglas, representing the Hudson’s Bay Company and the British Crown, and fourteen First Nations groups, in different parts of Vancouver Island. They do not all relate to the Fort Victoria area and were not all signed there, nor are the treaties, at least the oral agreements, the work of Douglas alone but a product of his negotiations with First Nations.

The February 2017 conference was itself an historic event, hosted by the Songhees Nation and the History Department/Faculty of Law of the University of Victoria, Over 300 people, half Vancouver Island First Nations and half non-Indigenous islanders gathered to share histories about the treaties, and the lack of any other treaties, in a new partnership between the University of Victoria and the Songhees Nation. Participants left with a sense that all of us, Indigenous or non-Indigenous on southern Vancouver Island, around Nanaimo and around Fort Rupert-Port Hardy have a treaty that needs to be honoured. We are all “treaty people” and the conference focussed on the different understandings about the meaning of those treaties.

The conference and this website were made possible by the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Songhees Nation, the University of Victoria, the Te’mexw Treaty Association and a number of legal firms engaged in Indigenous Law.