Homalco First Nation is celebrating a historic land transfer agreement that saw a 47-acre property on Read Island, British Columbia, transferred to the Nation.
The former property owners, including Eileen Sowerby, Helen Turbett and the late Suzanne Cook, officially “gifted” the Read Island property to Homalco earlier this year. The legal transfer includes several important agreements intended to preserve the property’s natural landscape.
“Homalco First Nation is proud to see the return of a portion of our territory on Read Island,” said Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney. “We’re grateful to have worked with Eileen and Helen through this process and are excited to work with our community to explore opportunities for cultural, recreational, and spiritual uses of the land.”
The Read Island property currently houses a 25-year-old cabin, surrounded by naturally regenerated forest. The land transfer demonstrates an important step toward reconciliation and Homalco’s management of its territory.
“Colonialists have not done a very good job of protecting the land. It has not been passed on with, as Roderick Haig-Brown said, ‘unimpaired potentialities,’” said Sowerby, one of three former landowners of the Read Island property. “So, our small group decided to officially transfer this property back to those who have been caretakers of this land for thousands of years.”
At a community celebration held May 12 at the Homalco Community Hall, Homalco honoured the former Read Island property owners with a special blanket ceremony, where Chief and Council also gifted Sowerby and Turbett with cedar hats woven by shishalh (Sechelt) Nation member and artist Shy Watters.