The Malahat Nation is located south of Mill Bay, along the western shores of Saanich Inlet, approximately 40 km northwest of Victoria, BC. The traditional languages spoken were SENĆOŦEN, Hul’q’umi’num’ and Samish. Nation members have family ties with the WSÁNEĆ peoples of the Saanich Peninsula and with members of the modern Hul’q’umi’num Treaty Group.
The word “WSÁNEĆ” means “emerging land” or “emerging people”—harking back to the great flood of ancient times—and was anglicized to “Saanich” by European settlers. Prior to European contact, the WSÁNEĆ ancestors of the modern Malahat, Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tseycum and Tsawout Nations owned and occupied several village sites and resource areas within a large traditional territory that included the Saanich Peninsula; the western shores of the Saanich Inlet from Goldstream to Hatch Point; the Gulf Islands; the San Juan Islands; and surrounding areas. Together they formed one of the largest population groups on Vancouver Island. The WSÁNEĆ people spoke SENĆOŦEN, Hul’q’umi’num’ and Samish. The name “Malahat” comes from the SENĆOŦEN word “MÁLEXEȽ” and Hul’q’umi’num’ word “Ma’le-‘h’xe’l’”, both of which are derived from the words for “caterpillars,” a reference to a historic infestation in the area.
347 (as of March, 2020)