First Nations

A Vision for the Corridor – A Way to Prosperity

If it weren’t for the vision and commitment of the Island’s First Nations peoples there would be no future for our Corridor. The Island Corridor Foundation is a partnership between local Governments and First Nations along the island rail corridor.

It came about through the vision of the Cowichan Tribes, Mayors and Councilors from Vancouver Island communities and railway enthusiasts who did not want to see the corridor divided and sold off in parcels to private interests, to be lost forever to the people of the Island.

The ICF was formed as a full partnership with First Nations.  Governance and direction for the foundation is shared with First Nations holding 50% of seats on the Board of the Foundation.  The Foundation commits to always work with First Nations as full patners and that all efforts of the Foundation shall be to bring economic, social, cultural, environmental benefits to all.  That partnership commitment was formally recognized in the Declaration on Aboriginal Title signed in May of 2010.

View our Declaration on Aboriginal Title

Because the Corridor goes through 14 First Nations territories, it is an essential part of community and business development plans in Aboriginal communities on the Island and we are proud to have nine of those nations as members to the ICF. The plentiful natural environment that gave birth to the rich cultural traditions of the Coastal Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwakaw’akw people has created abundant opportunities for new cultural industries and tourism.

Improved rail service for freight, passenger and excursion travel and for commuter service will stimulate the growth and development of First Nations’ businesses and communities across the Island. The corridor also plays a vital role in keeping our First Nations communities connected up and down the island.


The 14 First Nations located along the Corridor are:

Esquimalt Nation

The Esquimalt Nation is a small nation with approximately 150 members living on reserve and another 100 living off reserve. Off reserve members live in Victoria, in other parts of Vancouver Island and BC, Alberta, and in a number of communities in Washington State.

The families that were collectively known as Lekwungen, or Songhees, had their permanent winter villages on Vancouver Island. – Visit Website

Songhees Nation

We are from the Lekwungen Nation, often called the Songhees, though it was others who gave that name to us. For time immemorial we have been the first peoples of what is now known as the southern part of Vancouver Island. The Lekwungen worldview inspires and shapes our approach to everyday life such that it impacts every facet of our lives.

There is a fine balance in that the Lekwungen ways define our worldview – but are also defined by our worldview. Our approach to naming, witnessing, cedar bark collection, creative endeavours and everything else that makes up a life are deeply informed by our values. That all-encompassing approach serves, importantly, to reinforce those same values. – Visit Website

Malahat Nation

The Malahat Nation represents approximately 340 members with two reserve lands located on the western shore of Saanich Inlet, south of the village of Mill Bay, about 40 kilometres north of Victoria.

The Malahat Nation administration is comprised of both Nation members, Aboriginal professionals, and other well qualified and capable people all committed to providing essential programs and services. Services and benefits to the members align with the Malahat community’s stated objectives and expectations contained in the Comprehensive Community Plan, the direction of Chief & Council, and with the legal and fiduciary obligations of the Malahat Nation. – Visit Website

Cowichan Tribes

With over 4,900 members, we are the largest single First Nation Band in British Columbia. About half of our members live on the Cowichan Tribes Reserve. Ours demographic consists of a relatively young population, with a large percentage of the population under the age of 35.

We have seven traditional villages: Kw’amutsun, Qwum’yiqun’, Hwulqwselu, S’amuna’, L’uml’umuluts, Hinupsum, Tl’ulpalus. – Visit Website

Lake Cowichan First Nation

History of Lake Cowichan First Nation Native people have lived around the shores of Cowichan Lake for millennia, long prior to the arrival of Euro–‐Canadians. Lake Cowichan First Nation have always made their primary home on Cowichan Lake.

The Lake Cowichan people have used a wide range of resources throughout their traditional territory, encompassing the land surrounding Cowichan Lake, inland along the creeks entering the lake, the small lakes in the vicinity, and the uppermost portion of Cowichan River. Historic sources clearly indicate that family territories were owned and defended. – Visit Website

Halalt First Nation

The Halalt originate from the village of xeláltxw, which means ‘marked houses’ or ‘painted houses’, a reference to the fact that the houseposts in this village were decorated. According to information collected by Rozen (1985), this village was once located in the Cowichan Valley, at the spot where the Silver Bridge currently crosses the Cowichan River, at the south-eastern edge of the city of Duncan. According to Cowichan oral history, the forefathers of both the Cowichan and Chemainus people (Siyóletse and St’éts’en respectively) originated from this village. – Visit Website

Stz’uminus First Nation

We are a Coast Salish People who have lived around the Salish Sea for thousands of years. Our traditional territory on east Vancouver Island includes four reserves of more than 1,200 hectares, much of it bordering the Strait of Georgia and Ladysmith Harbour. Our Nation has 1,300 members with about half living on our reserves. We are a rapidly growing Nation, offering our members a range of opportunities, programs and services. We are a member Nation of the Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council. Please travel throughout our site and find out more about our people, our culture and traditions, our government and administration, the natural world that surround us, our educational and social facilities and the economic opportunities we offer. – Visit Website

Penelakut Tribe

Penelakut Tribe is located in the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The First Nation has four reserves among the islands of its traditional territory: Penelakut Island (formerly known as Kuper Island), Tsussie, Tent Island, and Galiano Island. Today, approximately 520 of the 938 members live on three of the four reserves. Penelakut Island is the largest of the reserves and is home to the majority of its members. Tsussie, a small reserve located south of Chemainus on the mainland Vancouver Island, is also home to a small number of members. At this time, Tent Island remains uninhabited and is a popular camp ground. – Visit Website

Snuneymuxw First Nation

The Snuneymuxw are a vibrant First Nation of the Coast Salish People, located in the centre of Coast Salish territory on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Fraser River in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Snuneymuxw territory encompasses one of the most productive and resource rich areas at the heart of the Salish Sea. – Visit Website

Snaw-Naw-As First Nation

The Nanoose First Nation, also known as the Snaw-Na-Was First Nation, is a First Nations government located on southern Vancouver Island in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, in the vicinity of the Nanoose Bay, situated 30 minutes north of Nanaimo, B.C. Along with 18 other tribes in the Salish Sea we are Coast Salish people, one of the northern most tribes on the east side of Vancouver Island.


Qualicum First Nation

The Qualicum First Nation is a First Nations band government located in Qualicum Bay at the mouth of the Big Qualicum River, near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. – Visit Website

Hupačasath First Nation

The Hupačasath First Nation people are a living history of the Alberni Valley. For thousands of years their people have instilled the importance of community here. For thousands of years the Hupacasath people have owned, used, and occupied their traditional territory on Central Vancouver Island.

The Hupacasath are comprised of three distinct tribes, the Muh-uulth-aht, Kleh-koot-aht and Cuu-ma-as-aht (Ahahswinis). – Visit Website

Tseshaht First Nation

We are the C’išaaʔatḥ (sis sha ahtah or Tseshaht) a vibrant community with an active and progressive natural resources-based economy. We are one of the 14 Nations that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth [Nootka] people of western Vancouver Island. We are proud of our culture and work as a community to preserve our traditional values and teachings. – Visit Website

K’ómoks First Nation

For thousands of years indigenous people occupied the shoreline of eastern Vancouver Island in a place referred to as, “the land of plenty”. This Land of Plenty stretched from what is known today as Kelsey Bay south to Hornby and Denman Island and included the watershed and estuary of the Puntledge River.

The people called K’ómoks today referred to themselves as Sathloot, Sasitla, Ieeksun, Puntledge, Cha’chae, and Tat’poos. They occupied sites in Kelsey Bay, Quinsum, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Kye Bay, and along the Puntledge estuary. As a cultural collective they called themselves, “Sathloot”, according to the late Mary Clifton. – Visit Website