After more than 100 years, gov't makes good on Treaty 8 promise to N.W.T. First Nation

Members of the K'atl'odeeche First Nation were promised ‘cows and plows’ in 1900, which they never received. This week members received a portion of a $28.3M settlement of that broken promise.

K'atl'odeeche First Nation members received portion of $28.3M settlement earlier this week

Members of the K'atl'odeeche First Nation near Hay River, N.W.T., celebrate the settlement of a promise made more than 100 years ago in Treaty 8. (Submitted by April Martel)

Members of the K'atl'odeeche First Nation (KFN) near Hay River, N.W.T., finally saw the federal government make good on a promise more than 100 years old.

On Tuesday, K'atl'odeeche Chief April Martel handed out cheques to community members representing a portion of the $28.3-million 'cows and plows' settlement stemming from unfulfilled Treaty 8 promises.

Treaty 8 was ratified by both the First Nation and the federal government in 1900, and contained a promise of "cows and plows" to First Nations that wanted to take up farming.

Cows and plows were never delivered, and the K'atl'odeeche First Nation agreed to the settlement in November 2017.

"Everyone's excited," said Martel. "Some of them bought new cars on Facebook. Some of them are paying off debt. Some of them are buying quads."

Martel said the membership was pleased to move forward with the settlement, and receive their money.

K'atl'odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel said a portion of the $28.3M plows and cows settlement would be reserved for a trust fund. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Martel said the membership had previously elected to distribute $30,000 to each member. According to Statistics Canada, the First Nation has 649 registered members living on and off reserve, with an average total annual income of almost $32,000 [in 2016].

Some members received a portion of their settlement last Christmas, which was deducted from cheques distributed Tuesday.

The balance of the settlement will be invested in a trust fund to be used for education, infrastructure and sports programs.

Martel credited past council members and former chief Roy Fabian with doing the hard work of negotiating the settlement.

"He [Fabian] did a lot of work and we can't thank him enough … for all the work he's done for so many years."

Based on an interview by Lawrence Nayally