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.”