" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

August 12, 2010

Salt Spring and the invisible Tsawout

There's one very special place, among the so many very special places on Salt Spring Island that seems to captivate my visitors more than any other place. Is it the peace? Is it the fact that when I go there almost no one else is ever there and it feels, from the winding shoreline trail, like a private sanctuary. The towering fir trees. The Arbutus growing ever rustier red this time of year, shedding their skin with vibrant green patches underneath. Garry Oaks. It's as if this space contains the spirit of heavenly ancestors breathing out cool air, calming every cell in your body with their evergreen breath.
There is one especially haunting place where the light streams through the trees in a way that makes you stop and look up.

It's Tsawout Land, 43-acres on the Eastern side of Fulford Harbour established in 1877 according to Charles Kahn's book on Salt Spring. Their official Band name is Fulford Harbour 5. The Tsawout First Nation is one of five bands that constitute the Saanich Nation. The other bands of the Saanich Nation are: Tsartlip, Tseycum, Malahat and Pauquachin. They have land as well on Saturna and Pender Islands. There are about 760 people who make up the Tsawout with their main centre in Saanichton.

When my friend Peggy came here she was asking me a lot of questions about these people that I couldn't answer. If it's reserve land, why aren't there any First Nation's people living on it?  Do they ever come here? I think they used to use it as a ceremonial ground, I say, not knowing whether that's truly accurate. Why are there almost no First Nation's people on Salt Spring at all? I want to find out the answers and learn about their history.

Colleen loved it here, on this white shell beach.

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