Our Nation

No’ilung | Welcome

The Esquimalt Nation is a small nation on the water of Esquimalt Harbour. Our traditional name is Xwsepsum, also written Kosapsum. Our connection with the land and the resources of our large territory goes back thousands of years. In that time, we have learned to live in a finely balanced relationship with the seasons, the lands, the tides, and the seasons of our lives that have sustained us. We repaid the land through our commitment to stewardship, and through our ceremonies. We understand this obligation as our Sacred Trust.

What is now Victoria used to be shared by five other communities: the Cheko’nein, the Chilkowetch, the Swenghwung, the Hwyuwmilth, and the Teechamitsa. We spoke the same language and, to a large extent, shared the bounty the land and sea had to offer us. When the British (under James Douglas) arrived in our territories, our ancestors – led by our ancestor Sisunuq and others – greeted him. A treaty signed with Douglas in 1850 – only six generations ago – guaranteed continued access to fishing and hunting, and maintenance of our spiritual relationship with the land, the resources, and our ancestors. However, devastating disease and consistent efforts to assimilate us through land and education policies have exacted a devastating toll on our families.

Despite what the world thinks, we have not lost our culture. However, because our culture was tied to and sustained by our lands, we must find new ways to give it voice.

The Sacred Trust

The Sacred Trust has been transmitted through oral teachings. These Teachings are usually contained in the stories of the Nation and they articulate a set of Natural Laws. It is the Sacred Trust, the Teachings and the Laws which inform the Vision and in turn the Plan. The Sacred Trust determines the relationships between the land, water and resources, the Community and the Spiritual Path.

“Take care of the land, water and resources, and they will take care of you.”

The Community, Family and People – “The Community comes first.”

Esquimalt Nation Mission Statement

Our mission is to build a legacy for present and future generations of Esquimalt Nation members by ensuring our work is rooted in the teachings and natural laws that flow from the Sacred Trust. We will promote and advance holistic health, self-sufficiency and safety of Esquimalt Nation members by offering meaningful programs and services, and working with our partners for mutually beneficial goals.