Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation settles $43M land claim with Canada, Saskatchewan

The Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation in Saskatchewan has reached a settlement in its Treaty Land Entitlement Claim, that’s been in the works since 2001.

“It means a lot for our community, especially our elders, our youth, buying more land for cultural events, more hunting, trapping and fishing for our community.  And, going forward after we buy our shortfall, we could start buying more commercial lands for economic development and try and create more jobs for our community,” Chief Larry Ahenakew says.

The long negotiation means $43.3 million is headed for the First Nation, 167 km north of Saskatoon.

It came close to a deal in 2014, but the federal government turned down a proposed $454.00 per acre.

According to Ahenakew, with the increase in land values, the settlement they arrived at is $1,021.00 per acre.

The joint settlement will see Canada provide $30.7 million and Saskatchewan will provide the remaining $12.6 million.

As part of the agreement, the First Nation will have the option of buying up to 40,659 additional acres to add to their reserve lands.

In 1878, 2 years after Treaty 6 was signed, enough land for 336 people was set aside for Ahtahkakoop. But the First Nation said it had 368 eligible members at the time, which should have provided the First Nation with more land.

In a statement, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller says Canada recognizes the historic harms caused to the First Nation by the shortfall.

“Righting this historical wrong is key to renewing Canada’s relationship with the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation,” says Miller. “We are committed to addressing them through concrete actions, for the development of the community and all future generations.”

Ahtahkakoop’s Treaty Land Entitlement Coordinator, Lanny Ahenakew, says there’s more optimism on the First Nation with the settlement in place.

“Buying lands is very important to our people.  We’ll be purchasing lands in the city, hopefully, for residential purposes and for economic development opportunities as well,” he says. “That means more jobs for our people and more business and revenues coming into the community.”

Canada and Saskatchewan will also set aside $6.7 million to compensate rural municipalities and school divisions, once taxable land is set aside as reserve land. Treaty Land Entitlement claims are intended to remedy historic allegations where First Nations received insufficient reserve land promised to them under Treaty.

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