Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University sign MOU
Songhees Nation and Royal Roads University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining a framework for cooperation regarding the future of the Royal Roads property. The MOU addresses the common interests of Royal Roads University and Songhees Nation in the Royal Roads lands; this MOU is similar in nature and intent to the MOU that Songhees Nation recently signed with the City of Colwood.
“Through this MOU, we welcome the opportunity to work with Royal Roads University and to align our shared values and priorities on these important lands that are part of our ancestral heritage,” says Ron Sam, Chief of Songhees Nation. “There is a growing bond between our Nation and Royal Roads University, and we have an opportunity to create something very special by fostering a greater understanding of each other’s goals.”
“Songhees Nation approached the university to enter into the MOU and we welcomed the opportunity,” says Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. “The MOU recognizes the university’s interest in continuing to operate on the campus lands and our ongoing commitment to working collaboratively with Songhees and other First Nations, now and in the future.”
The Royal Roads property is in the Traditional Territory of the Lekwungen, but is presently owned by Canada, and managed by the Department of National Defence (DND). Royal Roads University leases its campus from Canada with a long-term, prepaid lease. DND has determined the Royal Roads property is surplus to DND’s needs, and in 2016, entered into nation-to-nation discussions with Songhees Nation and other First Nations about the future of the Royal Roads property. For Songhees, this property is key to the process of reconciliation and an important part of reaching a modern-day treaty settlement.
DND and Songhees Nation have publicly committed to ensuring the ongoing operations of Royal Roads University in its current location. Songhees Nation has reaffirmed this commitment in the MOU.
Cahoon says Songhees and Royal Roads University will cooperate on gathering and sharing information about the history, boundaries, ecology and other attributes and challenges of the entire Royal Roads property. The parties will also work together to define the boundaries of the campus lands needed for the university’s continued and successful operation and they will explore options for the campus lands’ legal structure, such as fee simple ownership.
The MOU is not a legally binding agreement that determines the eventual outcome of the disposition process; the outcome is dependent on, among other things, DND’s disposition process.