Pasqua receives $145 million settlement from Canada
- NC Raine | November 06, 2018
Pasqua First Nation has received a $145 million settlement from the federal government of Canada by way of their 1906 surrender claim.
The compensation, announced on October 29, was accepted with a 97% approval from a ratification vote. The government of Canada offered the amount of $145 million to Pasqua First Nation back on June 5th, 2018.
“There’s some excitement in our first nation, as well as a sense of closure,” said Pasqua First Nation Chief Matthew Todd Peigan. “But it’s unfortunate that our people back then had to endure suffering from the government of the day.”
Peigan said Pasqua First Nation will be taking the entirety of the settlement and putting it into investments, achieving 4% ($6.7 million) of the total settlement on an annual basis. He said that any additional return beyond the annual 4% will be reinvested back into the settlement.
“Our message is: we want to ensure what our elders did for us yesterday benefit our people tomorrow,” said Peigan.
Plans are already being developed at Pasqua First Nation with how they’ll invest their capital. Peigan said that they will invest in long-term mortgages, renovate their current elementary school, construct a fully modernized high school, and build an elder’s community living centre.
“We want to ensure the safety and education for our future generations,” said Peigan. “We want to mold the future for our children.”
The first nation will also invest in community services and programs, including funds to their annual housing program, health, therapeutic, and counselling services. Pasqua also plans to look at which programs and services need to be addressed for members living off-reserve.
The compensation was over a decade in the making. Pasqua First Nation entered into a treaty with the Crown in 1874, in which it was entitled to land in which was used for agriculture. In 1906, over 16,000 acres of prime agricultural land was unlawfully surrendered from the first nation.
Claims to Canada for the unlawful surrender were made in 1987 and 1995, initiated at the time by Chief Lindsay Cyr, both of which were rejected. Another claim with the Indian Claims Commission was made in 2006, but the Commission was later dissolved.
Finally, in 2013, Pasqua submitted an updated claim under Canada’s Specific Claims Policy and four years later Canada accepted the claim for settlement negotiations.
Peigan said that the long legal process wouldn’t have been possible without former Chiefs Lindsay Cyr or Elaine Chicoose, who he said worked tirelessly to ensure treaties were honoured. He said the compensation helps right some of those wrongs from long ago.
“Yes (the settlement helps). I believe this government and Prime Minister Trudeau are making efforts. A lot of Indigenous people feel that his efforts are not going fast enough, but we also have to gauge how fast we were going before,” said Peigan. “By seeing the results of this settlement, which only took about 16 months of negotiations, you’re seeing efforts of this government to move towards reconciliation, building bridges, creating partnerships with Indigenous people, and trying to right the wrongs.”