07/17/2015 03:27 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT

Mahalat First Nation purchases traditional territory, triples in size

The Malahat Nation near Victoria, B.C. has bought 525 hectares which it considers to be part of its traditional territory, more than tripling the size of its land in the process.

Unlike many other First Nations, the Malahat decided to buy the land formerly known as Bamberton, including Oliphant Lake, instead of heading to court to secure it. 

Malahat Nation Chief Michael Harry says they worked for over a year to acquire the land, which is worth $37.5 million. 

"Now that we're owners of it, it just kind of gives us that comfort of knowing it's ours," said Harry. "Instead of fighting, we could spend that much money in legal fees and end up with nothing."

A loan from the First Nations Finance Authority helped the Malahat secure the financing to make the purchase.

Harry says he hopes the land will soon provide long-term opportunities for his people.

"What we will do over the next couple of years is start having conversations with the tenants in there about how we can start getting our own people involved into the employment that's currently taking place," said Harry.

The land is currently being used as an industrial site, but the Malahat Nation says it will also explore other opportunities such as tourism and housing.

The Mahalat First Nation has close to 300 members, 135 of which live on Mahalat lands.

Google Map: Malahat Nation