Stewardship of ?A:?b?e:?s (Middle Beach) land returned to Pacheedaht First Nation
November 15, 2023 Pacheedaht/Port Renfrew, British Columbia Parks Canada
Since time immemorial, the Pacheedaht First Nation has used and stewarded the lands and waters of their Territory, including ?A:?b?e:?s (Middle Beach), which today forms part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
The Government of Canada is committed to a process of relationship-building with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. In line with this commitment, Parks Canada and Pacheedaht First Nation signed a ground-breaking agreement today that returns the use of ?A:?b?e:?s (phonetic: Aah/bee/ay/s) to the Nation in advance of Treaty settlement. The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, joined Pacheedaht leadership and community members on the land during a ceremony at ?A:?b?e:?s to celebrate this step forward.
In 1988, the Government of Canada added ?A:?b?e:?s, an important shoreline area of Pacheedaht’s Territory, to Pacific Rim National Park without formal consultation, or recognition of Pacheedaht or their systems of traditional governance. The accompanying regulations continued to prohibit Pacheedaht management of these areas as well as the harvesting of resources. Through a co-developed process, Pacheedaht First Nation and Parks Canada have created an adaptive approach to return land use and stewardship to the Pacheedaht people in advance of treaty implementation.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Parks Canada have been in active treaty negotiations with Pacheedaht First Nation since 1996. As part of the Pacheedaht First Nation 2019 Agreement in Principle, the Government of Canada acknowledged the ?A:?b?e:?s lands as Pacheedaht First Nation treaty settlement lands and agreed to transfer them from Parks Canada to the Nation upon completion of ongoing treaty negotiations.
Parks Canada administers over 90 percent of federal lands, nearly all of which have been traditionally used and cared for by Indigenous Peoples. Many heritage places administered by Parks Canada have seen a transition over time from a past where Indigenous Peoples were separated from their ancestral lands and waters to our current context, where Parks Canada strives to work collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples.
“Today is an important day, as once again Pacheedaht will be able to take care of and use our lands at Middle Beach. For many years we have been separated from these lands and this agreement with Parks Canada represents an important step forward while we finalize our Treaty. We thank Parks Canada for working with us to find a way to recognize our responsibilities to these important lands until ownership of them come back to us under Treaty.”
Chief, Pacheedaht First Nation
“The cultures and identities of Indigenous Peoples are rooted in ties with the land. For more than a hundred years, the government stole land and severed these ties. Today, with the signing of this agreement, we begin to reverse this act of violence as the stewardship of the land at ?A:?b?e:?s is given back to Pacheedaht First Nation. I am honoured to have been a part of the ceremony held today and look forward to the important work ahead. More to do.”
The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“With the signing of this agreement, Parks Canada is returning the stewardship of ?A:?b?e:?s to the Pacheedaht First Nation. It is a step towards healing from the harm caused by policies that led to separation from ancestral lands, culture, and identity. The ceremony held today exemplifies the efforts from Pacheedaht First Nation and the Government of Canada to work together to develop shared understandings and to forge a path forward based on shared goals.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
The Pacheedaht First Nation is an Indigenous government based on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Pacheedaht territory includes the lands and waters along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island between Bonilla Point and Sheringham Point. The name "Pacheedaht" translates to English as "People of the Sea Foam."
Pacheedaht Territory includes some of the most magnificent marine shorelines in what is now British Columbia.
Since becoming a park reserve, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has seen a transition towards cooperative management. This change, as it continues to be developed, will facilitate Pacheedaht’s voice in shared decision-making in resource management, intertidal harvesting, transmission of cultural knowledge, and harnessing economic opportunities.
The federal designation of this 2.64-hectare tract of waterfront land has divided Pacheedaht First Nation’s main reserves, Pacheena 1 and Gordon River 2, as this land sits in the middle, connecting them. Because ?A:?b?e:?s is disconnected from other portions of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the visiting public has been largely unaware of its protected status.
CIRNAC is committed to advancing reconciliation through modern treaties with partners such as Pacheedaht First Nation.
Modern treaty negotiations with Pacheedaht First Nation are led by Treaties and Aboriginal Government of CIRNAC. CIRNAC coordinates with Parks Canada on all negotiation matters related to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
The cultures and identities of Indigenous Peoples are rooted in the land, and honouring connections to place is an important element for actions and outcomes related to reconciliation. Parks Canada is committed to ensuring Indigenous connections are honoured, and Indigenous rights are respected.
Chief Jeff Jones
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Public Relations and Communications Officer, Coastal B.C. Field Unit
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
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