History

The Snuneymuxw First Nation has a rich history and heritage. From the teachings and stories passed down through the generations to the sacred ceremonies, dances, and celebrations that honour our way of life and connection to this land, to the art, designs and symbols that reflect a higher meaning and purpose for our People, our history is a living story that continues to unfold. 

When Europeans first traveled to Snuneymuxw Territory Snuneymuxw villages dotted all of our Territory, including the mid-Island region of Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and the Fraser Valley. Snuneymuxw society, way of life, culture and economy extended throughout the Territory, which was governed by Snuneymuxw according to our Snawaylth. The Snuneymuxw population at the time was in the thousands.

The earliest documented contact with Europeans was the arrival of the Spanish in 1792. Prior to that however there was extensive commercial activity as part of the maritime fur industry. The Hudson’s Bay Company established a post in Nanaimo in 1852 as part of the colony of British Columbia. In order for the settlers to access the rich coal deposits in Snuneymuxw Territory, the Crown and Snuneymuxw entered into the Treaty of 1854.

The history of Snuneymuxw since the arrival of the settlers has been one of strength, perseverance, and endurance in the face of injustice, colonial oppression, disease, and prejudice. As a reflection of Crown laws, policies and actions, Treaty promises have been broken, Snuneymuxw villages unlawfully alienated, a foreign system of government imposed through the Indian Act, and family and kin systems interfered with.

Despite this, Snuneymuxw continues to thrive and has a growing and increasingly educated population, an ever-diversifying economy, society, and governance structure, rooted in Snuneymuxw values, culture and way of life.

A major part of the work of Snuneymuxw is to transform the destructive legacies that came with European settlement, into a just foundation for future generations to come.