Songhees Nation

Engaging with the regional economy

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Most of the Songhees Nation’s members live on the Nation’s reserve just outside the BC capital city of Victoria. The urban location provides many opportunities for boosting the Nation’s economy for generations to come.

The challenge

Songhees Nation is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. There are 535 band members, with about three quarters of them living on the Songhees Reserve. The reserve is located just outside the city of Victoria and surrounded by three municipalities.

This makes it an urban reserve with lots of opportunities to engage in the regional economy.

In the past, the Nation saw activities going on around them, including cultural tourism, and all kinds of industry in the city of Victoria. The Nation felt like it was watching rather than participating. The community also has very valuable land close to Victoria that is not being used to its full income-generating potential.

The Nation’s leadership decided to change things to enable the Nation to participate in the regional economy, to the benefit of the whole community over the long-term.

“As we increase our capacity, we start thinking of ourselves as a potential business partner and we start considering the opportunities for the future,” says Christina Clarke, Executive Director.

As we have moved through the process, we have discovered that our professionalism has increased, so our ability to understand the business market and to be a good business partner has increased. — Christina Clarke

The action

Songhees started working with the FMB in 2009 to develop their Financial Administration Law ( FAL) and gained Financial Performance (FP) Certification in 2011.

The process involves the whole Nation.

“Working towards certification is a long process that involves a lot of your staff, as well as your Chief in counsel and the community members,” says Clarke. “It's important to keep people engaged in the process, to remind people of why we're doing this, and to keep our eye on the prize.

The policies that we put in place will make all of our jobs easier. — Christina Clarke

The outcome

songhees wellness center

As it continues to bring their FAL to life, the Nation can already look forward to the future. An illustration of what they can now achieve comes in the form of the new Songhees Wellness Center. The 60,000 sq. ft., multi-purpose building contains an administration centre, health centre, education centre, and gym, as well as a conference centre and full-size industrial kitchen. A gift shop displays artwork from talented Songhees artists.

“It is a place where our band members can come together, as well as an opportunity for us to engage with the region,” says Clarke. “It's kind of a gateway for us to participate in the regional economy."

“We are creating opportunities for the future.”