Lubicon Lake Band, government officials sign historic land-claim settlement
Provincial, federal officials meeting with Chief Billy Joe Laboucan at Little Buffalo
Provincial and federal officials were in the northern Alberta community of Little Buffalo on Tuesday for a ceremony to celebrate the Lubicon Lake Band's $113-million land-claim settlement.
The deal, reached late last month, sets aside 246 square kilometres of land in the area of Little Buffalo, in northern Alberta.
"This is a huge milestone for us," said Chief Billy Joe Laboucan of the Lubicon Lake Band. "Like they say, it takes a whole community to raise a child ... it [took] a whole country to be able to settle this claim."
Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett lauded the Lubicon Cree people for their determination in the decades-long fight.
"An error was made by the Government of Canada, and the community of Lubicon Lake was suffering over those years without land, clean water, proper housing, so many other things that most people in this country take for granted," Bennett said.
"This is not about patience. This is about the incredible persistence of your people. Your fight inspired Canadians."
The Lubicon have waited "far too long" for their claim to be settled, said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
"I want to acknowledge the leaders of this community who came before, who have worked so hard and fought so tirelessly," she said.
The money will go towards community infrastructure including housing, all-season roads, telephone and internet cabling, water and wastewater services, solid waste management, public works and administration building and yard, a school and a multi-purpose community building.
The participants officially signed the agreement at the ceremony at the Lubicon Lake School in Little Buffalo, 465 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.