Edmonton

Treaty signing marks start of real work for Alberta's Lubicon, says chief

Alberta's Lubicon Cree have been fighting for decades for a land they could call their own. But the day before he's poised to sign the historic claim with Premier Rachel Notley, Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan says the real work is just beginning.

Deal reached in late October offers $113M from provincial and federal governments

Alberta premier Rachel Notley and Chief Billy Joe Laboucan shake hands after announcing the Lubicon Lake Band agreement in Edmonton last month. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Alberta's Lubicon Cree have been fighting for decades for a land they could call their own.

But the day before he's poised to sign the historic claim with Premier Rachel Notley, Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan says the real work is just beginning.

He says the First Nation has to buckle down and start using some of the deal's resources to build much-needed houses and a school.

The deal, reached in late October, offers $113 million from the provincial and federal governments as well as 246 square kilometres of land near the community of Little Buffalo.

Laboucan says the land has seen little industrial disturbance, which he attributes to the band's long fight for recognition under previous chief Bernard Ominayak.

The Lubicon Lake Band has sought a treaty since 1899, when it was not included in Treaty 8.

Ominayak is not expected at the signing, although he has been invited.

The Lubicon Lake Nation is about 450 kilometres north of Edmonton.