Manitoba

Fisher River Cree Nation settles $15M land claim with federal government after nearly 30 years

The dispute stems from land set aside for Fisher River Cree Nation after the signing of Treaty 5 in 1875.

Long-standing claim involves amount of land set aside 125 years ago, which was less than original agreement

The settlement was reached because of hard work and dedication by representatives of the First Nation and the government, Fisher River Chief David Crate said in a news release.  (Submitted by Doug Thomas)

A First Nation in central Manitoba has settled a land claim with the federal government after almost three decades.

The dispute stems from land set aside for Fisher River Cree Nation after the signing of Treaty 5 in 1875, the federal Crown-Indigenous Relations department said in a news release on Thursday.

In 1896, Canada set aside 2,952 acres (1,195 hectares) of land for the First Nation for agricultural use. But that amount was less than what was originally agreed on, the release said.

Fisher River Cree Nation submitted its claim in 1994. Now, it's set to receive nearly $15.1 million in compensation from the government.

The settlement was reached because of hard work and dedication by representatives of the First Nation and the government, Fisher River Chief David Crate said in the federal department's news release. 

Leaders in the community, about 175 kilometres north of Winnipeg, are hopeful the settlement will be part of "a long and prosperous relationship" with the federal government, Crate said in the statement. He was not available for an interview on Friday.

The conclusion marks "a significant milestone on the path to reconciliation" and a key step toward rebuilding a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said in the news release.

The 1994 claim was filed as an alienation specific claim — a reference to alienated land, or that acquired by governments from customary landowners. It often refers to land appropriated by colonial powers.

The specific claims process "helps right past wrongs and address First Nations' long-standing grievances through negotiated settlements," the federal department's release said.

The government is still consulting on and adjusting the program. While that work continues, Canada's 2021 budget will replenish the Specific Claims Settlement Fund in 2022-23 to provide timely payment of settlements, the release said.

Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, the government has resolved 36 specific claims for a total of more than $1.7 billion in compensation, according to the release.

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