Xwsepsum 'ulhtelnguhw | Who Are We?
The Esquimalt Nation is a small nation with approximately 150 members living on reserve and another 100 living off reserve. Off reserve members live in Victoria, in other parts of Vancouver Island and BC, Alberta, and in a number of communities in Washington State.
The families that were collectively known as Lekwungen, or Songhees, had their permanent winter villages on Vancouver Island. These traditional territories included:
- Teechamitsa (the western boundary; its most southern coastal points were at Albert Head/Parry Bay (now Metchosin) and about ten miles inland “to the range of mountains on the Sanitch arm”.
- Kosapsum (Esquimalt).
- Whyuwmilth (which extended north from the mouth of Millstream, in the Esquimalt Harbour, to the mountains near Goldstream).
- Swengwhung (roughly the James Bay neighbourhood of what is now Victoria).
- Chlicowitch (roughly the Fairfield neighbourhood of what is now Victoria).
- Cheko’nein (eastern territory included Point Gonzales and Mount Douglas).
In the summers, the Lekwungen would travel to various fishing sites on
Henry and the San Juan islands*.
*Wilson Duff’s “Fort Victoria Treaties”.
BC Studies Number 3, Fall 1969 pp.3-57.
Shhwule'e'lhtu | Where Are We?
Today, the Nation's reserve lands are located at the southwestern edge of the City of Victoria, bordering the Songhees Nation reserve, and the Town of View Royal. Map
This aerial photo was taken in 2007 and shows the reserve lands as developed at that time. Since then a number of new homes have been built, but the general layout of the reserve lands remains the same.
Land, Water & Resources
The reserve lands are approximately 44.3 acres in size. About 50% of the land has been identified for economic development. The balance is residential and commercial, including the Nation's offices and the Big House.
Off reserve resources include:
1) The Chilco Lands, 2) The West Bay Property, 3) Water Lot A, and 4) The James Bay Trust.
Numetung | Governance
The Esquimalt Nation is governed by an hereditary Chief and appointed Council. The Chief and Council are assisted by Elders and the Heads of the Families, of which there are five. They, along with the Elders, provide a forum for discussion about and advice on important matters facing the Nation. Governance Diagram
Day-to-day administration of the Nation's business is undertaken by staff and consultants. Administration Diagram