Mary Lake Nature Park


WSÁNEC (Saanich) Coast Salish Peoples

Mary Lake lies within the traditional territories of the WSÁNEC (Saanich) Coast Salish Peoples.

​We recognize the integral role the ancestors of the WSÁNEC Coast Salish Peoples have played
as past stewards of the Mary Lake and Highlands lands.

The teachings of the WSÁNEC (Saanich) peoples speak of the land, the water and the people as equal members
of a complex system, an integrated entity connected through cultural traditions

​“We need to protect our land.​That is what the Ancestors said.
We need to keep the land clean, our streams clean. We need to be giving back to our land.”
~ John Elliot Sr. Tsartlip Elder

Yellow Wolf drummers and singers doing a Dedication Ceremony for past Stewards of the Earth in 2011 at Mary Lake

Traditional Usage

This territory was used by the Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum, Esquimalt and Whyomilth (Songhees) peoples for ​ hunting, gathering food & medicinal plants, relaxation and spiritual practices.

Respected elder Tom Sampson, from the Tsartlip First Nation regarding Mary Lake:

It is a place we could go to find everything that was needed to survive – food, medicine, a place of relaxation, a place of finding one’s own spirit or one’s own soul. It is sort of like a sacred walk. As a young man or woman you walk to find yourself to find your spirit……….

Everything has a purpose and that purpose is to be respected and protected for all time.
You cannot own it. We have to share that moss and shade of tree with other parts of creation.
The residents that are underneath that moss, it is amazing what you will find under there.
You will find lizards you will find snakes you will everything there.

….all the medicines – lots around this area. There is a plant (licorice fern) you have to take the root
and clean it and it is like an antibiotic if you have a toothache or sore throat you chew it
and the saliva activates the medicine.

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