Esquimalt Nation and Royal Roads University have signed a historic agreement that builds the framework for the disposition of the Department of National Defence land where the university is located.
The agreement, similar to the one RRU signed with the Songhees Nation in 2018, addresses the common interests of all parties involved in the disposition of DND lands that includes the university and Hatley Park. The DND, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation have publicly committed to ensuring Royal Roads will continue as a university in its current location in Colwood.
“Heritage and culture are essential to the Esquimalt Nation, and include the Sacred Trust, the ceremonies, the traditions, and the arts of the Nation,” Esquimalt Nation lead Coun. Rob Thomas said in a news release on Wednesday. The Esquimalt Nation culture is tied to and sustained by our lands, and we must find new ways to give it voice. Therefore, we enter into this agreement with the best intentions to work in a collaborative, productive, but most importantly, ecologically sustainable way.”
RRU president and vice-chancellor Philip Steenkamp said the agreement is similar to the one signed with the Songhees Nation because it defines parameters for all parties to work together in the spirit of collaboration. “We will continue to work with Esquimalt Nation to gather and share information regarding the important history and ecology of these lands. Together we will define the boundaries of the campus lands for the university’s continued and successful operation.,” Steenkamp noted in the release.
Hatley Park and RRU are located on the traditional lands of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. The lands that previously included a Royal Military College are currently owned by Canada and managed by the DND.
RRU leases its campus from Canada pursuant to a long-term prepaid lease, with 80 years remaining in the term. DND has previously determined the lands are no longer required for its needs and entered into nation to nation discussions with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations about the property’s future in 2016.