Vancouver Island (Douglas) Treaties

We make a distinction between the oral agreements that the colonial officials made with the different Vancouver Island First Nations which are the real Vancouver Island Treaties, and the record that was made by James Douglas which we believe differed significantly from the First Nations understanding of the oral agreement. What was written by Douglas -- the Douglas Treaties – we call the Douglas Forms because, a full nine months after the first oral treaties were made, Douglas received a standard form from his superiors at the Hudson’s Bay Company in London. He slightly adapted the template and then inserted below it the names of the Indigenous people who participated in the earlier oral agreement, as if they had signed it. None of the First Nations saw this written version until decades later, and none could have read it as it was written in English, a foreign language to them.

It is clear that some agreement was made between James Douglas acting for the British Crown in his capacity in the Hudson’s Bay Company, and fourteen First Nations. There are several First Nations oral histories that can help us understand what their interpretation of those agreements were.

Treaties Timeline

(compiled by Neil Vallance and Hamar Foster)