PM signs historic land claim settlement with Siksika First Nation
$1.3B payment helps 'to right a wrong from the past,' says Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the Siksika First Nation east of Calgary to sign a historic land claim settlement, which the federal government says is one of the largest agreements of its kind in Canada.
Siksika Chief Ouray Crowfoot said that while the settlement won't make up for past wrongs, it will make a difference in people's lives and provide opportunities that they didn't have before.
WATCH | Chief Crowfoot says it's important that a partnership with the federal government benefits both sides:
Trudeau and Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, participated in the signing ceremony Thursday at Siksika First Nation with Crowfoot, band council and community members.
"We're gathered today to right a wrong from the past," Trudeau said during the ceremony.
"We're gathered to give ourselves a chance to start rebuilding trust between us, nation to nation."
WATCH | Trudeau says it's 'humbling' to see First Nations partner with federal government despite a complicated history of mistrust:
The federal government said the settlement dates back more than a century when Canada broke its Blackfoot Treaty promise and took almost half of Siksika Nation's reserve land, including some of its agricultural lands, to sell to people who settled in the area.
The agreement provides $1.3 billion in compensation to Siksika Nation to resolve outstanding land claims, which includes about 46,500 hectares of Siksika's Reserve and certain mineral rights taken by Canada.
'I see us becoming a thriving nation'
Crowfoot said the settlement doesn't undo wrongs from the past, but it will make a difference in nation members' lives today.
"Canada needs to stop using the word reconciliation. You will never reconcile, you will never make it whole," he said.
"This land claim — $1.3 billion, that's a lot of money — it will never make it whole of what it was before. But we've got to move forward. What the $1.3 [billion] can do is provide opportunities, opportunities we didn't have before.
"I do see the tide turning for Siksika…. I see us becoming a thriving nation."
Crowfoot said some of the money will be spent on addressing issues that affect its members.
"We are the second-largest First Nation from a land perspective, yet we don't have policing on the reserve," he said.
"We're working to get our policing back.
"We are working through the residential school searches and mental health."
The Siksika website indicates each member of the First Nation is to receive $20,000 in July as part of the settlement.
In his initial speech during the signing ceremony, Crowfoot noted that he wasn't sure yet if he considered Trudeau to be a friend.
He explained at a media availability later that he knows Miller has proven to be a friend of the Siksika people.
"I have about three friends that I consider close friends. This is the first time I've ever met the prime minister," he said.
"How do we work on these relationships so I can call the prime minister a friend? I don't call him an enemy."