Sask. First Nation to receive $4.5M compensation for treaty money withheld 130 years ago: lawyers

Lawyers for a Saskatchewan First Nation say the federal government has been ordered to pay $4.5 million as compensation for treaty money withheld by the Crown after the Riel Rebellion about 130 years ago.

Lawyers for Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation announce payment for money withheld after Riel Rebellion

Lawyer Ron S. Maurice, Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation Chief Rick Gamble and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron at a news conference in Saskatoon on Tuesday. (Dan Zakreski/CBC News)

Lawyers for a Saskatchewan First Nation say the federal government has been ordered to pay $4.5 million as compensation for treaty money withheld by the Crown after the Riel Rebellion. 

Chief Rick Gamble from Beardy's and Okemasis joined lawyer Ron Maurice and Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron at a news conference on Tuesday. Maurice told reporters that the Specific Claims Tribunal had ruled the sum should be paid to the Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation.

It said the money was compensation for $4,250 in treaty money that the Crown illegally withheld from band members between 1885 to 1888, after the Riel Rebellion.

Maurice said the decision follows the Tribunal's earlier finding that the Crown breached its lawful obligation to make yearly treaty payments of $5 per person, called "annuities", to starving members of the Beardy's and Okemasis Bands in the four years following the 1885 Riel Rebellion.

"The decision was released on Friday that basically awards Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation $4.5 million as compensation for losses relating to the 1885 rebellion," Maurice said.

Both Ottawa and the First Nation have a month to appeal. Maurice said 131 years is long enough.

"Of course our intent is really just to march forward and try to bring this to a resolution as quickly as possible."