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New VIU centre will study Canada’s earliest treaties

The centre’s focus will be research about pre-Confederation treaties from BC and across the country.


Vancouver Island University sits on territory where a treaty was signed between the Crown and First Nations people in the decade before Canada became a country. So it is fitting that the university will now become home to a Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation.

“Our university is in a territory where a treaty was entered in 1854, a Douglas Treaty,” said VIU President Ralph Nilson, on announcing the centre. “It’s taken 160 years for a centre to be founded focused on the study of that pre-Confederation treaty and others like it – a sign of how much learning we still have to do and which this centre can now facilitate.”

VIU noted that the courts have recognized pre-Confederation treaties as different from other treaties. The centre’s focus is on research and public discussion about pre-Confederation treaties from British Columbia and across the country, and the challenge of reconciliation.

The interim director of the centre, Douglas White – a lawyer and former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation – is now establishing an advisory council. The council, he said, will include “people from across the country, from Mi’kmaq territory on the East Coast to Vancouver Island.”

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  1. Charles Boyle / June 19, 2014 at 03:31

    What an imaginative and timely decision by VIU to pioneer such a centre, and how fitting that it’s development should be led by the thoughtful, measured and articulate Douglas White. Looking forward to hearing and seeing great things as the crumpled pages of history and straightened and become legible again.

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