Manitoba

$126M land settlement approved by Peguis First Nation in Manitoba

Members of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba have voted to accept a land claims settlement worth $126 million.

Members of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba have voted to accept a land claims settlement worth $126 million.

The money will compensate for land that was illegally taken in 1907. Under the proposed settlement, every adult member of the band would receive $1,000.

Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson said the result of the vote, which was held on Thursday and Friday at a hotel in Winnipeg, lays the groundwork for a hopeful future for his people.

"The picture is very bright for us," he said.

"Certainly, we are going to take the steps in achieving our independence and our sovereignty — and this is a step in the right direction," Hudson told CBC News.

Peguis members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the settlement, although only 46 per cent of eligible voters actually cast their ballots.

Voters had been in favour of the deal in an earlier ratification in January, but the results were disqualified because less than half of eligible voters cast ballots. This time it was decided that, regardless of turnout, all that would be required was a simple majority of actual votes cast.

Peguis is the largest First Nations community in Manitoba, with a population of approximately 7,200 people.

Band members were evicted from the Selkirk-area land in 1907. Four years later, a provincial commission ruled the move invalid. But federal officials insisted that the Peguis relocate to what was largely swampland along Lake Winnipeg.

Some of the money will go to providing infrastructure, Hudson said.

"Some immediate plans are to start our new arena here in the community of Peguis, which had burned down a couple of years ago — and housing, certainly. With the backlog of housing that we have, we need to address some of the immediate needs," he said.

However, most of the money, $118 million, will be put into a trust account, Hudson said.

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