Gambler First Nation moves a step closer to Brandon urban reserve with development, service agreement

An agreement has officially been signed between the City of Brandon the Gambler First Nation in western Manitoba that brings the First Nation one step closer to establishing an urban reserve in the city.

'Brandon is ready for a First Nation to come in. Gambler is ready to expand,' says chief

The City of Brandon and Gambler First Nation signed a municipal service and development agreement on Friday. From left: Gambler First Nation Chief David LeDoux, Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations Eileen Clarke. (City of Brandon/Supplied )

An agreement signed Friday brings Gambler First Nation in western Manitoba one step closer to establishing an urban reserve in the city of Brandon.

The municipal development and service agreement was signed during a ceremony at Brandon's city hall Friday afternoon.

"Brandon has basically opened the door for our future by letting us come in and be part of Brandon and working with Brandon," said Gambler First Nation chief David LeDoux.

"I couldn't find a better community in Manitoba to partner up with. I'm really excited about that."

Gambler First Nation, located 132 kilometres northwest of Brandon, near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, is one of Canada's smallest Indigenous communities, spanning just over five square kilometres. There are 293 band members, including members on and off reserve.

LeDoux said the agreement signed on Friday means his First Nation is one step closer to developing a parcel of land in Brandon, located on the city's north hill. The proposed property is about 3.5 hectares in size.

There is no word yet on what could go on the land.
The agreement was signed at Brandon city hall on Friday afternoon. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

The Brandon deal comes after Gambler First Nation signed a deal with Elcano Exploration Inc. in 2017 to bring two oil wells to the First Nation, which could see millions of dollars flow into the community.

LeDoux said Friday that some members of the First Nation have expressed worry that money from the oil project would be used to fund the future project in Brandon, but he said that won't be the case. 

LeDoux said one thing is for sure, however, on the Brandon project.

"The property will hopefully be for our youth," he said. "Our future is our youth — to start taking care of [them] and getting [them] involved and voting, and getting a board together to make sure that property is held in their trust."

It would be the first urban reserve development in Brandon. LeDoux said agreements still need to be made with the federal government before the project moves ahead.

"The timing is just right," he said. "Brandon is ready for a First Nation to come in. Gambler is ready to expand."

"We couldn't get a better deal," said LeDoux.