We strive to be a strong and healthy community.
The Ts’uubaa-asatx Nation is a self-determining, innovative, progressive and prosperous nation. We are a distinct tribe (with roots to the Dididaht group of tribes) who continue to govern in a harmonious and balanced way, inclusive of all members, valuing relationships, customs, and traditions, with honour and respect for our culture and the environment, continuing for future generations.
Today, Ts'uubaa-satx has approximately 30 people residing on its reserve and many more wanting to come back home. Although small in size, Ts'uubaa-satx is embarking on following the community’s voices that were shared during our economic development plan. We desire a strong and healthy community, connected to our lands and culture. We strive to build capacity for effective economic growth.
Overview of Ts’uubaa-asatx People
History Ts’uubaa-asatx People
The Ts’uubaa-asatx people have resided along Cowichan Lake since time immemorial. Our traditional territory stretches the entire Cowichan Lake watershed, which includes the height of the various mountain ranges circling the lake as well as the tributaries flowing into the lake. Due to its location in the middle of Vancouver Island, the area was known as a distinct trading area with neighbouring tribes.
The Ts’uubaa-asatx people were once numerous, prior to contact, however numbers began to decline due to: warring with neighboring tribes to protect our land; diseases that were brought over from first contact with the European settlers (smallpox, flu, etc.); and loss of land due to settlers forcibly taking land and laws that were imposed on our people.
The first Indian Agent assigned the current reserve (where we are today) to the members that were residing at the Lake. The Ts’uubaa-asatx people’s name was changed to the Lake Cowichan First Nation.
The village and people were almost completely wiped out. The population has remained quite small for the past 80 years as our relatives have endured the harmful effects of government and church policies and institutions.
Our children were forced to attend Residential School, with the result that they scattered far away from home to escape the pain caused by such terrible abuse. A majority of these members never returned. Lost Generation(s) of families now either do not know about their roots or have been fostered out and lost contact. LCFN is in the process of trying to track these members down to re-establish their roots, culture, and heritage, and to bring them home.
Racism has been prevalent for over a century and produced a hostile climate that drove members away. Those who stayed were faced with obstacles and challenges to employment and health, resulting in poverty and addictions. For the past 20 years, respect and understanding are slowly taking the place of prejudice and mistreatment.
Stewards of our Territory
Ts’uubaa-asatx’s traditional territory encompasses the entire Cowichan Lake watershed including the Indian Reserve that is the community core. It houses the residential and administration buildings and is located on approximately 100 acres between the Youbou Highway and Northshore Road.
Since ancient times, Ts’uubaa-asatx people have inhabited and used a wide range of resources throughout the traditional territory, encompassing the land surrounding Cowichan Lake, its shoreline, and the adjacent streams and forest inland, the small lakes in the vicinity, and the uppermost portion of Cowichan River.
Traditional uses of resources has continued into modern times. That is why Ts’uubaa-asatx is active in various working groups and initiatives aimed at protecting our resources. Although small in number, Ts’uubaa-asatx takes very seriously their role as stewards of their traditional territory.
Preserving the Past: Reawakening our Culture
Our membership has remained resilient and there is now a reawakening of our culture, song, dance, and heritage. We are hoping to share these with our neighbours and community.
Ts’uubaa-asatx wrote a letter highlighting the lack of awareness and acknowledgement of the First Peoples of the Cowichan Lake area. This letter served as a catalyst to the decision of the Town of Lake Cowichan to name the square after our people.
A Totem Pole was gifted from the Ts’uubaa-asatx people to the residents of the Cowichan Lake area. It was raised at the newly-named Ts’uubaa-asatx Square. The pole was a testament of the New Relationship that Ts’uubaa-asatx has with the Town of Lake Cowichan.
We are re-learning our traditional songs and dances. The totem pole carver (who carried the traditional knowledge, history, song, dance, and art of the Nuu-chah-nulth people) offered to teach our community songs and dances. The resurgence of cultural pride was unprecedented and we saw a 90% participation rate at each practice leading up to the pole raising ceremony.
Community members are learning how to make shawls, drums, vests, and are documenting traditional sites within our traditional territory.
We are establishing a cultural center that houses the rich history of our people. The artifacts have been preserved for generations, and we plan on repatriating pieces from various museums and private collections in the future.