Following a similar agreement with the City of Colwood in March, Songhees Nation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Royal Roads University to signal a co-operation between the two parties with regards to the property.
Late last year, it was disclosed that the Department of National Defence had declared the Hatley Park land to be surplus and that it was looking to dispose of it. Songhees and Esquimalt Nations expressed interest in the property as part of their historical territory and have said they would pursue “sensible” development.
Throughout the process, the future of Royal Roads University has been secure.
Songhees initiated this latest agreement.
“Through this MOU we welcome the opportunity to work with Royal Roads University and to align our shared values and priorities on these important lands that are part of our ancestral heritage,” said Ron Sam, Chief of Songhees Nation in a statement. “There is a growing bond between our Nation and Royal Roads University and we have an opportunity to create something very special by fostering a greater understanding of each other’s goals.”
Royal Roads president and vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon added: “The MOU recognizes the university’s interest in continuing to operate on the campus lands and our ongoing commitment to working collaboratively with Songhees and other First Nations, now and in the future.”
Cahoon says Songhees and Royal Roads University will co-operate on gathering and sharing information about the history, boundaries, ecology and other attributes and challenges of the entire Royal Roads property. The parties will also work together to define the boundaries of the campus lands needed for the university’s continued and successful operation and they will explore options for the campus lands’ legal structure, such as fee simple ownership.
The disposition process involving DND and First Nations groups is ongoing.
In January, Songhees lawyer Robert Janes told the Gazette that he expects they will be “deep into the treaty process” within a year.
*An earlier verison of this story had Royal Roads president and vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon identified as Albert Cahoon.