Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University outline objectives for property in framework agreement

Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University have signed a framework agreement outlining their key objectives and outcomes for the future of the Royal Roads property, building on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) both parties signed one year ago.

“This framework agreement is a planning guide that identifies our respective goals, shared values and priorities on these important lands that are part of our ancestral heritage that we hope will become part of our future treaty settlement lands,” said Chief of Songhees Nation Ron Sam. “The framework agreement will guide how we work together to define our relationship into the future. It acknowledges our common desire to preserve both the environmental and cultural values of these lands, and to foster partnerships through education that will benefit all Indigenous people. This foundational work allows us to move forward with legally binding definitive agreements.”

“Signing this framework agreement reflects the next step of our growing relationship with Songhees Nation,” said Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. “Over the last year we have continued to work together, gathering and sharing information about the history, boundaries, ecology and other attributes and challenges of the property as we gain further insights into our partnership. We feel very positive about our collaboration going forward.”

An important step in the process of reconciliation and a key objective of Songhees Nation is the inclusion of all or part of the Royal Roads Lands as treaty settlement lands negotiated with Canada and British Columbia.

The key objective in the framework agreement for Royal Roads University is to acquire the campus lands portion of the property in fee simple ownership as a contiguous configuration of approximately 170 to 180 acres that reflects the current and future needs required for the university’s long-term success.

The framework agreement also outlines mutual objectives including:

  • development of programming opportunities that serve the educational needs of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and other Indigenous communities;
  • preservation of heritage buildings, gardens, viewscapes and other features of heritage, cultural, historic and environmental value throughout the Royal Roads lands;
  • development of a planning framework to identify how the Royal Roads campus lands can be integrated with the remainder of the Royal Roads lands and the exploration of partnership opportunities.

The Royal Roads property is situated in the traditional territory of Songhees Nation but is presently owned by Canada and the Department of National Defence (DND). Royal Roads University leases its campus from DND with a long-term pre-paid lease. In 2016 DND determined the Royal Roads property was surplus to its needs and entered into nation-to-nation discussions with Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation about the future of the property.

The framework agreement establishes a process to further identify and discuss potential terms of one or more legally binding definitive agreements between Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University and potentially others.

The framework agreement itself is not legally binding and will not determine the eventual outcome of the future of the Royal Roads property. That outcome is dependent on the DND’s disposition process.