Released on April 6, 2022
Today, Chief Larry Ahenakew; Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Don McMorris; have announced that the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan have concluded tripartite negotiations and reached a settlement agreement for the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation Treaty Land Entitlement Claim.
Treaty Land Entitlement claims are intended to remedy historic allegations where First Nations received insufficient reserve land promised to them under Treaty. Ahtahkakoop adhered to Treaty 6 in 1876, which promised one square mile per family of five, or 128 acres per person. In 1878, a federal Order in Council set apart 42,988.8 acres of land as reserve for the First Nation, enough for 336 people. Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation asserts that the total eligible membership was 368 individuals, resulting with a Treaty land entitlement shortfall of 4,115.2 acres.
Under this historic settlement, the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation will receive compensation of $43.3 million. Of that amount, Canada will provide $30.7 million and the Government of Saskatchewan will provide the remaining $12.6 million. As part of this agreement, the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation has the option to acquire up to 40,659.97 acres to add to their reserve lands. Canada and Saskatchewan will also set aside $6.7 million as compensation to rural municipalities and school divisions once taxable land is set apart as reserve.
"Righting this historical wrong is key to renewing Canada’s relationship with the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation," said Miller. "We recognize the harms caused to the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and are committed to addressing them through concrete actions, for the development of the community - and all future generations."
"The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to have reached a successful outcome in partnership with Canada and the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation," McMorris said. "This settlement demonstrates the Government of Saskatchewan's commitment to reconciliation, and provides for Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation with opportunities to invest in land, economic development, and community enhancement. These projects will benefit not only Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, but all of Saskatchewan."
"Thinking of our future generations, this settlement will provide for hunting and trapping lands, cultural and ceremonial lands, as well as additional lands for our members to benefit from," Chief Ahenakew said. "In the not too distant future, this settlement will also provide for our members, economic development opportunities and create much needed employment on Ahtahkakoop owned commercial and urban lands. Ahtahkakoop would like to recognize the countless hours of work completed by the many team members from Canada and Saskatchewan, as well as our own legal teams; thank you all for your hard work. This has been a very lengthy process and Ahtahkakoop is pleased that this historic Treaty Land Entitlement Claim has finally been settled."
- The Ahtahkakoop First Nation is a Cree First Nation band government near Shell Lake, Saskatchewan. It is located 72 kilometers northwest of Prince Albert.
- The First Nation submitted the claim in July 2001 and it was accepted for negotiations in May 2010.
- First Nation members approved the settlement in a community vote in October 2021, with 97 per cent of those who voted voting in favour. The First Nation executed the Settlement Agreement in October 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan executed the settlement agreement in January 2022 and the Government of Canada executed the settlement agreement in March 2022.
- Canada has a longstanding policy and process in place to resolve these claims by negotiating settlements with First Nations. Since January 1, 2016, it has settled more than 183 specific claims with First Nation partners, totalling $8.9 billion in compensation. In fiscal year 2020-21, 56 claims were filed, 46 claims were assessed (41 accepted for negotiations and five not accepted), and 36 claims were resolved through negotiations.
- Working in partnership with First Nations, Canada has settled over 592 specific claims through negotiated settlements since 1973.
For more information, contact:
Office of Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Treaty Land Entitlement Coordinator
Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation