First Nations - Land Rights and Environmentalism in British Columbia

Endangered Arbutus tree on SPAET with a view over the Salish Sea. Photo: Jezz Foodieme


Songhees Cheryl Bryce shows desecrated cave site. Photo: Rick Stiebel



SPAET is a traditional mountain area in shared Coast Salish territories, located 20 km north of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. In the Salishan language, SPAET ("spa - eth") means "bear." In November 2006, a sacred First Nations cave on SPAET was bulldozed over (left), part of an orchestrated land grab by greedy real estate developers and their political cronies.

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Langford's Bear Mountain Interchange

  Ben Isitt December 2007 

Heritage Conservation Act or Heritage Destruction Act  

Cheryl Bryce Songhees Lands Manager 24 May 2007


SPAET cave was finally and fully blown up at Christmas 2006. Two condemning reports have since been written: one by Songhees member and lands manager Cheryl Bryce on the failure of the Heritage Conservation Act to protect aboriginal sites like SPAET; the other by historian Ben Isitt on the murky political dealings behind Langford's Bear Mountain Interchange. To download these reports, click the titles (left). For indigenous reporting on the deliberate ruining of SPAET cave, see Bob Kennedy: Turtle Island Native Network.


The partial destruction of the sacred cave site on SPAET was discovered in November 2006 by Coast Salish - Songhees member Cheryl Bryce (above). A real estate scheme backed by local politicians receiving economic kickbacks is despoiling SPAET (right). Bear Mountain Development Group (LGB9) president, the culprit bully behind the grandiose $2.1 billion scheme, arrogantly boasts that he need not accommodate First Nations before laying waste to their lands and sacred sites "You know, if we want to blow up a cave and put up a hotel we will, I bought the property, I own it, we have the mining rights, so what?" (25 May 2006, Times Colonist).

The deliberate ruining of SPAET reveals the emptiness of the government's promise to build a "new relationship" with the indigenous peoples. Behind their smooth and sanctimonious rhetoric, elected public officials continue to operate with the same colonialist contempt for First Nations that tarnishes the 150 year colonial history of British Columbia (BC).

SPAET Stand, 16 November 2006. Photo: Don Knight

Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom (above, with Songhees members David Dick and Cheryl Bryce) took part in the SPAET Stand. He called the developer's deliberate destruction of the cave "provocative" and "a slap in the face to all First Nations." The Tsartlip have fought to establish their right to hunt, as protected in their 1852 Douglas Treaty. On 21 December 2006, they won their case in the Supreme Court of Canada: R. v. Morris. The case was covered by the international press and set a precedence for treaties being paramount to provincial law. But without a land base such as SPAET, the Tsartlip have no place to practice their indigenous rights.


Bear Mtn Resort sales office, Victoria, 2006. Photo: Karen Wonders (red text added)

To stop the developers from further despoiling the sanctity and ecological integrity of the SPAET cave, First Nations activists and their non native supporters organized a pre dawn blockade on 16 November 2006. They stopped the machinery citing ethical, spiritual and environmental grounds. See the two minute YouTube video that records the moment of confrontation (below).

SPAET Stand, 16 November 2006. YouTube (Click to play)

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Stand at SPAET cave, 16 November 2006. Photo inset: Darren Stone


Bear Mountain Resort developers reacted to the unexpected First Nations protest at SPAET cave on 16 November 2007 by threatening their employees with job loss if they did not "standdown" the protesters. In an aggressive retaliatory act with racist outbursts, over 100 male construction workers surrounded and assaulted the small vunerable group of six protesters (left).

The next day, 17 November 2006, Bear Mountain Resort developers served punitive one million dollar law suits on Cheryl Bryce and other Songhees and Tsartlip members. The vengeful developers also initiated SLAPP injunctions to authorize the RCMP to arrest peaceful SPAET protesters and to ban Songhees lands manager Cheryl Bryce from setting foot on the mountain.

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  Present at the SPAET Stand on 16 November 2006 were Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and vice president, St'at'imc Nation Chief Robert Shintah (right). As First Nations Leadership Council members, the chiefs informed Bear Mountain Resort officials that recent recognition of Aboriginal Title and Rights includes legislation to ensure the protection of sacred sites:

"First Nations in this province are outraged at what's happened here. It's of paramount importance that all the parties recognize the need to resolve this ... otherwise we're going to have a situation develop here which is going to be just as ugly as the other confrontations across this country" Press Release (Union of BC Indian Chiefs).


SPAET Stand, 16 November 2006. Photo: Darren Stone


Songhees Cheryl Bryce inside SPAET cave.
Photo: Paul Griffiths


Hidden from sight behind the entrance to the limestone cave on SPAET is an underground grotto with a beautiful crystal clear pool of water (left). First Nations elders say such waters were used traditionally for bathing in spiritual rituals that continue to be important to Coast Salish culture.

In an act of vandalism, Bear Mountain Corporation pumped the water out of SPAET cave and filled it with old tires and tree stumps. According to the Heritage Conservation Act, the damaging, desecrating or altering of places with historical or archaeological value is illegal. But no government laws exist to prohibit or impede development on private property. Until a few years ago the SPAET cave was protected as forest land. Now sold to Bear Mountain Corporation, no protection exists for the SPAET cave or other sacred sites such as the Guardian and Transformation Rocks.

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Prior to the First Nations stand, Bear Mountain Resort dumped debris from the clearcut mountainside of SPAET over the cave entrance in a crude attempt to cover up evidence of its existence. On discovering the wanton damage, Songhees lands manager Cheryl Bryce was shocked (right).

The government of Canada has acknowledged the importance of sacred indigenous places: "An aboriginal cultural landscape is valued by an aboriginal group (or groups) because of their long and complex relationship with that land. It expresses their unity with the natural and spiritual environment. It embodies their traditional knowledge of spirits, places, land uses, and ecology. Material remains of the association may be prominent, but will often be minimal or absent" Parks Canada.

Coast Salish protestors say the SPAET cave is sacred and important as cultural heritage. BC's Archaeological Society president, Eric McLay, confirms that limestone caves with pools of water inside have been powerful spiritual places traditionally kept secret by Coast Salish people. Speleologist Paul Griffiths is one of the few non - native people to have been invited inside the SPAET cave. He reports: "This small karst cavity has considerable historical, cultural, aesthetic, scientific and educational value to all British Columbians and aboriginal people." Read his urgent appeal on 21 December 2006 to the BC Premier: Protection of SPAET Cave. On the continuing extermination of vulnerable karst environments in BC by industrial forest operations and urban development, see the scientific report: Karst Resource Management.


Despoiled cave, 14 November 2006.
Photo: Darren Stone

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Arbutus destroyed, SPAET, 30 January 2006.
Photo: Songhees Cheryl Bryce


Karst environments host a distinctive ecosystem that is fragile, interconnected and dependent upon a balance between hydrology, climate, soils and vegetation. On the unique beauty of karst landscapes and their vital function in providing drinking water, see: Karst Conservancy.

Another act of vandalism on SPAET is the ruining of a rare and vunerable Arbutus habitat (left). Arbutus trees are being clearcut and burned in huge piles of debris so that condo monstrosities like "The Highlander" can be built. Ironically, in Scotland, home of the scientific discoverer of "Arbutus menziesii," there is a movement called the Madrone Project to preserve each and every introduced Arbutus tree due to concern over the demise of the wild species on the Northwest Coast. Bear Mountain Resort's slash - burning of this most beautiful and elegant of native Coast Salish aboriginal heritage trees is despicable.

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Reflections in the display windows of the Bear Mtn Resort Sales Office, Wharf Street, Victoria, 7 August 2006.
Photos: Karen Wonders (red text added)

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Highway development plan. (Click to enlarge)
Map: Stantec (text added by K. Wonders)


Road infrastructure on Vancouver Island is controlled by the heavy handed BC Ministry of Transportation which is partnered with Stantec, the American based engineering empire that rose to power by paving over Edmonton, Alberta. Stantec's map reveals its nature wrecking plans for the Saanich Inlet (left). Note that the proposed Malahat Corridor will open up SPAET for further development and facilitate the sly subdivision plans of Three Point Properties at Bamberton.

Until recently much of SPAET was classified as a "Forest Lands Reserve." Its secretive sale to the Bear Mountain Corporation in 2001 adds up to a form of political favouritism that has still to be detailed. Profits from the sprawling subdivision plans depend on a highway interchange paid for in part with public funds: $5 Million for Bear Mtn. A further $25 million in funding was hastily arranged by Langford politicians on 27 December 2007. The controversial interchange will connect to the Bear Mountain Parkway which is being bulldozed across the mountain slopes of Goldstream Watershed. This degradation of the already endangered rainforest ecosystem and salmon bearing river further puts at risk the long term viability of the Chum salmon fishery shared by the five Saanich tribes at Goldstream Indian Reserve (left).

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SPAET is being destroyed by a clandestine land grab. In 2001 the BC government transfered 44 hectares of land to Western Forest Products for the giveaway price of one million dollars. Within six months the land was flipped to the Bear Mountain Resort developer for the same price and zoning regulations were altered, courtesy of the local pro big business Langford mayor. The result is a cancer - like urban sprawl of golf courses, residential subdivisions, roads, hotels and strip malls. All of this can be easily observed by anyone using Google Earth satellite and mapping technology (right).

Black bear in Goldstream Watershed.
Photo: Capital Region District


Bear Mtn Parkway, 21 December 2006.
Photo: Google Earth

The sleaze surrounding the Bear Mountain Resort land grab involves big business and elected officials eager to make a quick buck. Community and environmental issues such as municipal water supply, pollution from golf courses and sewage, changes to the fragile watershed hydrology, public transport infrastructure, etc. have hardly been addressed. Bears and other large wild animals have no place to go as their mountainside habitat disappears (left). Bear Mountain Resort has already killed one resident "problem" bear and there are likely other unreported instances.

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Ancient cedar in Goldstream Watershed.
Photo: Capital Region District


The SENCOTEN name for Goldstream River is above. The mouth of Goldstream River is at the head of a long fjord known as the Saanich Inlet. An important Saanich chum fishery was located here as well as an ancient village and a burial ground. Goldstream River and SPAET are part of the Goldstream Watershed. As a result of clearcut logging, only a fraction of the once magnificent old growth forest survives, a remnant of a now rare Douglas fir ecosystem with its colossal ancient trees (left). The development of SPAET further degrades the Goldstream Watershed and puts its few remaining big tree veterans at risk.

Goldstream River was first described by settlers in the 1860s when a small gold rush occured here. In the 1870s, Goldstream River was surveyed by the Indian Land Commission, an early government agency formed to assign Indian Reserves. In 1884, colonial officials determined the boundaries of the Goldstream Land District. Goldstream River was first dammed in 1892 to provide drinking water for the growing city of Victoria, 16 km to the south. In 1897 one of the first hydro plants in Canada was built here to supply power for Victoria. Not until 28 July 1913 did the government allot a tiny 12 acre parcel of estuary land on Saanich Inlet to the five Saanich Indian tribes, called Goldstream Indian Reserve No. 13.

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Since the colonization of Vancouver Island in 1858, the hydrology of the Goldstream Watershed has been severely altered by mining, clearcut logging and the building of railways, roads, dams and subdivisions. Not until 1998 did local environmental groups suceed in forcing the government to stop clearcut logging in park reserves and municipal drinking water reservoirs including Goldstream Watershed.

The hydro plant on Goldstream River operated until 1958 when a provincial park was founded. The spectacle of wild salmon returning from the ocean to their natal stream where they were hatched has astounded countless scores of visitors to Goldstream Park. The salmon die as they deposit their eggs in the gravel beds of Goldstream River (right), and become part of the rich temperate rainforest biodiversity that is a world class and priceless nature treasure.


Dead salmon, Goldstream Park, 2006.
Photo: L. Barnes


Goldstream Ceremony, 8 November 2002.
Photo: Mary Coakley, Turtle Island Native Network

Few visitors to Goldstream Park realize that an ancient Saanich village and gravesite is located here as well as the Goldstream Indian Reserve which is shared by the Malahat, Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Tseycum peoples. Tsartlip youth hold wreaths made of rainforest ferns (above) while performing a traditional ceremony in Goldstream River, a place of cultural heritage and a resource site for salmon gaffing. A contemporary print design by Tsartlip artist Chris Paul conveys how vital salmon are to his community (right). The Saanich aboriginal right to fish is enshrined in two treaties signed in 1852. This indigenous right does not mean very much, however, if there are no chum salmon stocks left due to habitat degradation caused by urban sprawl.


The Goldstream Watershed is the primary source of drinking water for Victoria and its surrounding communities (about half a million people) and has been intensively engineered to support a complex system of dams and reservoirs, increased to maximum capacity in 2003. Water flow to Goldstream River for salmon spawning is artificially controlled. Also wild salmon stocks are artificially managed by the Goldstream Salmon Hatchery.

"Tsartlip," print by Chris Paul, 2006.
Photo: Alcheringa Gallery

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American Dipper, Goldstream Park, 2005.
Photo: Mike Yip


In the fall of 2006, a record low level of returning Chum salmon was recorded at Goldstream River. According to the BC Conservation Foundation, the status of the wild stock salmon is of extreme concern with the possibility of extirpation. A last minute restoration effort constructing artificial fish habitat has been initiated in the Greater Georgia Basin including Goldstream River.

Not much habitat recovery is possible while the regenerated forests of Goldstream Watershed continue to be fragmented by roads and subdivisions. Contamination from the unregulated expansion of golf courses is worsening due to the poisons and toxic chemicals used to maintain the wasteful artificial greens. This is also of concern as scientific studies have shown that people who regularly play golf and live near golf courses risk elevated pecentages of neurological cancers.

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Habitat diminishment and the contamination of the Goldstream Watershed is bad news for the Western Red-backed salamander (right). This tiny and vunerable creature does not move around much in its territory of a few square meters. Like many other such amphibian species, it is dependent on damp and rainforest habitat.

Tsartlip and Songhees land managers have documented pollution from toxic construction materials and raw sewage at Bear Mountain Resort. Not only has the golf consortium failed to properly consult First Nations over its development plans, it has banned the Songhees land manager from its property, refused a request to search for evidence of grave removals and ignored repeated requests for official reports: "Environmental Impact Assessment, Water Course Surveys & Development Plan & Archeological Impact Assessment."


Salamander, Goldstream Park, 2001.
Photo: Allen Chartier


Eagle on snag tree, Goldstream Park, 2006.
Photo: Ngawangchodr


The Marbled murrelet is a bird species dependent on old growth forests. Like the ancient trees in which the females nest, the species is on the verge of extinction. One of the last recorded birds was seen in 1998 in the Goldstream Watershed. In recent years, White - headed eagles have returned to the estuary of Goldstream River to feast on salmon carcasses during the spawning season (left). To protect the eagles, the BC Ministry of Environment has initiated a an eagle eatery and conservation strategy.

Conservation efforts by the government to protect Goldstream Park are recent in comparison to the Coast Salish peoples who have stewarded the salmon and forest resources here for millenia. Parks are another form of colonial land takeover, like resource exploitation and urban expansion. Coercive schemes by government officials and developers to fragment indigenous opposition to the despoiling of traditional hunting and fishing grounds are greased by deplorable bribes such as the "revenue sharing" casino deal at one stage offered to dissolve the SPAET cave protest.

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The increasing urbanization of Vancouver Island is displacing many of the native wildlife species, especially large carnivores such as bears and cougars. Not long ago these species were ruthlessly hunted for bounties as part of the official predator control program. Today the most serious threat to their survival is loss of habitat due to urban sprawl. The magnificent cougar in its primaeval forest home is shown here in a diorama (right) at the Royal BC Museum. In reality, the cougar has today vanished from most places on Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.

First Nations field researchers have found on SPAET evidence of an old cougar den and an active one. Both are on a mountain slope being leveled for golf courses at Bear Mtn Resort. Also in the Goldstream Watershed, in October 2006, a black bear was observed eating a salmon carcass. It is not acceptable that this rich and endangered rainforest biodiversity that enraptures and amazes countless visitors and groups of school children every year be at risk. Canada signed the 2004 Convention on Biological Diversity. Yet in BC, the government continues to support an extinction program by giving free reign to resource and development corporations with their profitable "greenwashed" schemes. Moreover international edicts such as the United Nation's Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Berlin Declaration on sustainable tourism and biological diversity are ignored.


Cougar diorama, Royal BC Museum, Victoria.
Photo: Karen Wonders

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Songhees First Nation members, 4 April 1911.
Photo: BC Archives

On 26 October 2006 several First Nations leaders hiked to the top of SPAET (right). Left to right: Songhees Councillor Frank George, Songhees Councillor Nick Albany, Songhees Lands Manager Cheryl Bryce, Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom and non - native MLA John Horgan. Chief Tommy George (above) is the great grandfather of Frank George and Cheryl Bryce. Almost 100 years separate the two photos yet the issues that continue to plague the Douglas Treaty holders remain the same. The reason is well known: "We have a treaty that is 150 years old and still not implemented" Tsartlip Chief Joe Bartleman, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs 1997.


The Sencoten word for Victoria is above. The Songhees people who lived here were displaced by development. A government photo was taken in 1911 to document the forced "removal" of the Songhees to a new Indian Reserve at Esquimalt Harbour (left). Front row (left to right): Sam Qullamult, Mrs. Pelkie, Mary Freezie (wife of Chief Charley Freezie) and an unnamed man. Back row: Councillor Tommy George (c. 1879 - 1947), Chief Michael Cooper and Councillor William Robert.

SPAET meeting, 26 October 2006.
Photo: anon

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 1. Chekonein - Songhees
 Date: 30 April 1850
 Size: 3, 300 hectares
 Payment: 79 pounds sterling

2. Chilcowitch - Songhees
 Date: 30 April 1850
 Size: 1, 300 hectares
 Payment: 30 pounds sterling

 3. Kosampson - Esquimalt
 Date: 30 April 1850
 Size: 5, 000 hectares
 Payment: 52 pounds sterling

 4. North Saanich *
 Date: 11 February 1852
 Size: 22, 000 hectares
 Payment: [not stated]

5. South Saanich - Malahat
Date: 7 February 1852
Size: 4, 900 hectares
Payment: 41 pounds sterling

6. Swengwhung - Songhees
Date: 30 April 1850
Size: 2, 200 hectares
Payment: 75 pounds sterling

7. Teechamitsa - Songhees
Date: 29 April 1850
Size: 5, 200 hectares
Payment: 27 pounds sterling

8. Whyomilth - Songhees
Date: 30 April 1850
Size: 5, 000 hectares
Payment: 45 pounds sterling

* Tsawout, Pauquachin, Tseycum, Tsartlip

Douglas Treaties - Victoria.
R. Wolfenden, Indian Land Question (1875)

Payments for the Douglas Treaties were made mostly in blankets, valued in British pounds sterling (above). Critical theses on the Douglas Treaties can be read online at the University of Victoria: Indigenous Governance Program.


Douglas Treaties (purple) - Victoria (pink).
Directory of Federal Real Property

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"Songhees Indians, Victoria," c. 1875.
Photo: BC Archives

Thousands of prehistoric burial cairns were destroyed as Victoria expanded according to the theory of colonization called the Wakefield System. No respect was given to the many well marked sites of First Nations heritage. Surveyors plotting property lines for the exclusive Uplands subdivision in 1906 posed on a Chekonein grave site for a photo (right). Another example of desecration is an ancient Songhees grave site with prehistoric boulder circles and massive burial cairns in Beacon Hill Park has been frequently disturbed, the latest incident occuring in 1987: Aboriginal Burial Cairns.


The Douglas Treaties were never honoured by Canada or BC. Treatied land included important winter villages, food gathering sites, hunting grounds and fisheries that were not protected. Much of Victoria has been built in Songhees Territory: First Nations in the City. A photo of a group of Songhees (left) shows them at their traditional clam and crab gathering site on James Bay, later destroyed when the bay was filled and the opulent Empress Hotel was built in 1908.

Surveyors on Chekonein grave, 1906.
Photo: BC Archives

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Ancient Salish midden, Portage Park, Victoria, 2006.
Photo: Derk Essel


Most waterfront properties in Victoria have been developed on ancient middens and village sites, with no legal restraints. Chief Stewart Phillip says: "The destruction of our sacred areas, burial sites by unregulated landuse development will continue to be a source of increasing social, political and legal conflict. The BC Heritage Conservation Act needs to be totally revamped to reflect the principles of respect and reconciliation" Press Release: Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

The Coast Salish midden at Portage Park in Victoria contains a multitude of layers of animal remains and ancient traces of First Nations settlement activity embedded in the earth (left). Archaeologists have used radiocarbon to date the midden at about 2,800 years old. The area also holds a burial site and human remains have been exposed by winter storms. See: Esquimalt News: Ancient Village in BC Threatened (5 July 2006).

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Southeastern Vancouver Island has lost some of Canada's rarest and most diverse plant communities as a result of urban sprawl. See a historical distribution map of the Victoria area: Garry Oak Ecosystems. Ancient oak trees (Quercus garryana) once dominanted this area, along with Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and arbutus (Arbutus menziesii). Only 1 percent of the original Garry oak meadows remain and they are home to over 100 native species at risk including camas (Camassia leichtlinii). In the northern Strait Coast Salish language dialects, camas (Cowichan) is also called kwetlal (Lekwungen) and speenxw (SENCOTEN).

Camas grows on SPAET but Bear Mountain Resort has wiped out huge areas of its habitat (right). This once carefully tended native plant needs legislative protection. On its importance, see: Restoring Camas and Culture (an interview with Songhees Cheryl Bryce by Briony Penn, Focus Magazine May 2006). "Camas is revitalizing traditional food gathering practices" says Cheryl, who teaches these skills: "We need to interact with the land and remember our past. Harvesting camas bulbs relates to our identity and who we are as an indigenous people. It was once a staple in our diet and it is important to our food gathering tradition." Read Cheryl's poem dedicated to this beautiful plant: The Camas Bulb.


Camas on SPAET, 2006.
Photo: anon

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Shortly after the SPAET Stand on 16 November 2006, a symposium on First Nations and "Rethinking Intercultural Communication" was held nearby to SPAET, at Royal Roads University. Speakers included Tsartlip elder Samuel Sam (Order of Canada, 1992) and his son, Greg Sam. Paulette Regan, a non native participant, gave a paper on "Decolonizing Dialoques" that began with a reference to the SPAET Stand. For decades, scholars and indigenous activists have called on the need to reject the imperialist hegemony over the processes that define, shape and name the world.

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Destroying Cave Only Way
Natives' Sacred Cave Destroyed
Bureaucratic Logic, Political Hypocrisy
Desperately Trying to Head Off Trouble
Aboriginal Leaders Want Cave Restored
Cave Calamity
The Cave Will Be Protected
Cave Worth Restoring: Scientist
Protect SPAET Mountain
UBCIC Fully Supports Tsartlip First Nation
Tsartlip Media Advisory
Tsartlip Veto Skirt Mtn. Cave Deal
Tsartlip Threatening Legal Action
Destruction Contravenes Financers

Bear Mtn Resort scandal media links.
November - December 2006


SPAET - Goldstream Watershed, 2006.
Photo: Allen Njessie

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"Evidence Censored," 22 December 2006.
Bear Mtn Resort graphic: Karen Wonders


Chief Samuel Sam, born in 1925, was a highly respected Tsartlip elder who passed away 18 December 2007. His grandfather paddled Saanich Inlet and Goldstream River for most of his 105 years - a traditional way of life that Chief Sam saw disappear in his lifetime: "The land is destroyed. What's left for young people? Whatever we can do to salvage what's left, anything, that's what we should do" First Nations Cultural Heritage. It is scandelous that this 1997 impact assessment of a Saanich Inlet development project at Bamberton is today being ignored by Three Point Properties.

Chief Sam's wisdom is reflected in the response of Songhees lands manager Cheryl Bryce to the fracturing and unethical "Divide and Rule" bribes offered by the Bear Mountain developers: "Money comes and goes but once a sacred site is destroyed it is gone for good ... We are connected to it and when it goes so does a part of us. Sacredness is not something you sell." Before Christmas Day 2006, rumours circulated that SPAET cave had been blown up (left). The Bear Mountain developers censored evidence of their actions by prohibiting access to the cave. Tsartlip Chief Chris Tom warned: "Our community won't stand back. Developers better think twice before developing in our area. We will stand tough and fight back" Tsartlip Threatening Legal Action.


In a last ditch effort to try to stop the ruthless developers from destroying aboriginal heritage, Cheryl Bryce (right) and other First Nations activists prepared an online petition: SAVE SPAET. "We are asking for concerned citizens and supporters of First Nations rights to join us in signing this petition which we hope will address the immediate issues of sacred sites, environment and restoration of damaged sites on SPAET and the deeper and wider issues of." A year later, Cheryl reminded BC politicians that the issues behind SPAET cave "remain unresolved and have left destroyed a part of the Indigenous people" 13 November 2007: Statement.

SPAET cave destroyed, September 2007.
Photo: Tsartlip Simon Smith


SPAET Stand, 16 November 2006.
Photo: Don Knight

Cheryl also sent the BC politicians an open letter she wrote to commemorate the SPAET Stand on 16 November 2006: "Remember, who you are and what you have now and what you want all our children, grandchildren and generations to come to have in their future and what they will become. Remember First Nations identify with the land and you are killing us when the land is treated this way. You are killing all of us. I want you [MLA, John Horgan] to take that to Campbell and all governments" Remembrance Day 2007.

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Websites in Support of SPAET (Skirt Mountain)

Crisis of SPAET Cave
Archaeologist Paul Griffith documents the threat to the rare karst cave and calls for international condemnation of BC's reprehensible disregard of natural and aboriginal heritage

Bear Mountain Tree Sit
Treesitter Zoe Blunt's blog. On 11 April 2007, forest activist Ingmar Lee set up a protection camp at the site of the planned Bear Mtn Interchange with several tree platforms

Spencer's Pond
Ecological study by Rob Bowen of the rich variety of native plants and wildlife that inhabit the unique wetland facing destruction and degradation by the planned Bear Mtn Interchange

Langford Lake Cave
Rob Bowen documents the rare karst cave, an integral part of an endangered ecosystem and an aboriginal heritage site that has been given no protection against development and sprawl

Media on SPAET (Skirt Mountain)

Bear Mountain Road Showdown Article by journalist Andrew McCleod on the controversy caused by Bear Mtn Resort developers' deliberate destruction of SPAET cave, sacred aboriginal heritage

To Steal a Mountain Indigenous rights essay by Adam Barker on the ruthless and well funded corporation behind Bear Mtn Resort and on the betrayal of the local communities by their own leaders

Capital Regional District Over 500 pages of letters by citizens, mostly opposing the sneaky tactics of the developers of Bear Mtn Resort and their disregard of the Watershed Plans and Regional Growth Strategy

We Can't Bear Bare Mountain Essay by forest activist Ingmar Lee on the treesitters' dedication to stopping Bear Mtn Interchange and exposing the biodiversity destruction caused by out of control real estate cowboys

BC Speleological Federation A media advisory on the endangered Langford Lake Cave by speleologists who demand political intervention to save the rare natural heritage site and put a stop to Bear Mtn Interchange

Sleazy Sprawl Melanie Tromp reviews a report that alleges conflicts of interest and back room dealings by Bear Mtn developers are behind the destruction by sprawl of the Forest Land Reserve (FLR)

Maps and Photos of SPAET (Skirt Mountain)

Goldstream Watershed The Capital Regional District (CRD) has plans to protect the Goldstream and Millstream Watersheds – but these have been sabatoged and exploited by the Bear Mtn Resort developers

Google Earth Rampant urban sprawl and the ecological devastation of Goldstream Watershed and SPAET by Bear Mtn Resort and other subdivision sites is monitored by satellite photos and maps

Natural Areas Atlas Environmental information from CRD that failed to prevent Bear Mtn Resort developers from blatantly destroying the rare and fragile high elevation ecology of Goldstream Watershed

Skirt Mountain A Flickr photo taken in December 2007 of the odious road being cut across Goldstream Watershed by Bear Mtn Resort, on forest land intended to be protected as part of Goldstream Park

Youtube Videos on SPAET (Skirt Mountain)

Bear Mountain Coast Salish social activist Rose Henry describes her feelings about the Bear Mtn Resort developers, their abuse of indigenous rights, and their ruining of First Nations heritage (12-01-2007)

SPAET Song Aidan Knight performs his own song, dedicated to the First Nations stand on 16 November 2006 against the desecration of their sacred cave by Bear Mtn Resort (30-01-2007)

Langford Treesit Also known as Bear Mountain Treesit, it is devoted to stopping the mindless destruction of rare forest biodiversity including Spencer's Pond and the Langford Lake Cave (19-04-2007)

Forest or Freeway? The ecological integrity of the forest has little value in a society that views road building as an act of progress and worships ever more car traffic as an ideal of personal freedom (10-05-2007)

Bear Mountain Tower Eyesore A personal appeal to protect the much loved Goldstream Park and to reject the "downright developer greed" of the nature destroying Quigg Towers of Bear Mtn Resort (22-07-2007)

Langford Lake Cave - Spencer's PondA personal condemnation of the billion dollar Bear Mtn Resort travesty that is degrading the rare and precious salmon spawning Goldstream River and Watershed (23-07-2007)

Seeing the Forest for the Trees Documents a community rally held on 29 December 2007 at the Bear Mtn Treesit to protest against the sleazy colonial style politics of Langford's unbridled development (31-12-2007)

Bear Mtn Treesit Camp LifePortrait of life at the well organized base camp in the forest that acts as a supply centre for the treesitters who occupy platforms tied to branches high up in the Douglas firs (13-01-2008)

A Tale of Two Lifestyles Contrasting lifestyles: one a gated trophy house community built on land stripped of its native flora and fauna (Bare Mountain); the other opposing this decadence and waste (08-02-2008)

Bear Mtn Eviction Documents the overkill of a massive police force to arrest 3 treesitters on 13 February 2008; includes a TV interview with First Nations Chief Eric Pelkey at the protest site (15-02-2008)

Spencer Road (Bear Mtn Interchange)
Salish activist beats a native drum giving courage to other forest activists who attempt to stop the forest and habitat destroying machinery from creating a wasteland (17-02-2008)

Shocked Bird from the Forest A traumatised young bird whose forest home was destroyed by the industrial feller buncher is rescued by a child in the hope that the small creature can survive (22-02-2008)

Victory at Bear Mtn Interchange
Citizen action on 16 February 2008 against Langford's bully developers, as filmed 5 minutes before the forest wrecking feller buncher machine was forced to stop (17-02-2008)

Stop the Bear Mtn Interchange Citizen stand for FN sacred sites and the environment: "urban sprawl hurts us all." The message to the politicians is that we have had enough secretive back room dealing (17-02-2008)

Bear Mtn Update: Lena's Story Personal statement by Lena McGinn as to what happened to her when some 60 armed police officers swarmed the pacifist Bear Mountain Treesit on 12 February 2008 (22-02-2008)

Denise Admits "I meant it" Meeting at Langford City Hall during which deputy mayor Denise Blackwell is caught on video "giving the finger" to Bear Mtn Interchange protesters and affirms she meant it (26-02-2008)

Bear Mtn Roadside Confrontation "You bloody slut" abuse by the angry Rent-a-Mob, over a 100 male rednecks paid double time by Bear Mtn Resort developers to attack the two dozen mostly female protesters (01-03-2008)

Bear Mountain Parkway Protest More footage of the ugly Rent-a-Mob paid by Bear Mtn Resort developers to attack a small group of protesters who are standing up against the destruction of frog and wildlife habitat (01-02-2008)

Bear Mountain Bosses Mob Bobby Arbess sings his song about the Bear Mountain Resort construction workers and their corrupt and unethical bosses who are making a killing by destroying nature (11-03-2008)

Spaet Mountain Desecration A faller buncher destroys the forest ecosysterm of Langford Lake Cave and its surrounding wetlands and wrecks the sacred aboriginal heritage of the Coast Salish People (14-03-2008)

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