Esquimalt Nation and Royal Roads University sign framework for cooperation on DND land disposition process

Esquimalt Nation and Royal Roads University have signed a framework agreement that outlines how they will work together throughout the Department of National Defence (DND) land disposition process.

The agreement addresses the common interests of Royal Roads University and the Esquimalt Nation in the Royal Roads lands and is similar in nature to the agreement Royal Roads signed with the Songhees Nation in May 2018. DND, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation have publicly committed to ensuring the ongoing operations of Royal Roads University in its current location.

“Heritage and culture are essential to the Esquimalt Nation, and include the Sacred Trust, the ceremonies, the traditions, and the art of the Nation,” says Esquimalt Nation Lead Councillor Rob Thomas. “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 of intentions to work in a collaborative, productive, but most importantly, ecologically sustainable way.”

Like the agreement Royal Roads University signed with the Songhees Nation last year, this new agreement defines parameters for all parties to work together in the spirit of collaboration, says Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Philip Steenkamp.

“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 needed for the university’s continued and successful operation,” he says.

Royal Roads University and Hatley Park are located on the traditional lands of the Esquimalt and the Songhees Nations, which are presently owned by Canada and managed by DND. Royal Roads University leases its campus from Canada pursuant to a long-term, prepaid lease, with a remaining term of 80 years. DND has determined that the Royal Roads property is surplus to DND’s needs, and in 2016, entered into nation-to-nation discussions with Esquimalt Nation and Songhees Nation about the future of the property.