Waywayseecappo First Nation and Canada take major step toward reconciliation with settlement of longstanding claim and addition to reserve

News release

August, 11, 2021 — Waywayseecappo First Nation, Manitoba — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The successful resolution of specific claims is a key step in Canada’s ongoing journey of reconciliation with First Nations - one that helps to address the past and build a better future for community members and all Canadians.

Today, Waywayseecappo First Nation Chief Murray Clearsky and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that the First Nation and Canada have concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve a longstanding dispute and move forward together on the path of reconciliation.

The negotiated agreement settles Waywayseecappo First Nation’s 1881 Surrender Specific Claim. The claim relates to the taking and subsequent sale of 21,013 acres of the First Nation’s reserve land in 1881. The basis of the claim was that Canada wrongfully took these lands from the First Nation without their consent and without proper compensation.

The settlement provided approximately $287.5 million in financial compensation to the First Nation. The settlement honours an outstanding obligation, but also provides the First Nation with capital to invest in new opportunities for community and economic development that can benefit its members and the local economy.

In marking this joint achievement today, Waywayseecappo and Canada want to acknowledge former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci who mediated the negotiations and played an instrumental role in assisting the parties in reaching this negotiated settlement.

Chief Murray Clearsky and Minister Bennett also announced today that Canada and Waywayseecappo have successfully completed the addition to reserve process adding 2.250 hectares (5.56 acres) of surface land to the Waywayseecappo Highway 10 Indian Reserve.

The lands, located approximately one kilometre north of the City of Brandon, have successfully been developed into a gas bar, a convenience store and an office building for the West Region Child and Family Services Centre.

By adding lands to reserve, the Government of Canada helps advance reconciliation, fulfill legal obligations, improve treaty relationships, and foster economic opportunities.

Quotes

“It is a great pleasure to finally settle the 1881 Surrender Claim after more than 30 years. Having been Chief during these past decades, I can say that Canada’s willingness to engage in a mediated process in 2017 not only resulted in the successful settlement of the claim but was a tangible demonstration of reconciliation in action. Mediation is a trust building exercise in line with Indigenous principles and is by far the most superior means of advancing reconciliation between Canada and First Nations and resolving outstanding issues. Chief and Council would like to thank the citizens of Waywayseecappo First Nation for their dedication and support throughout and we appreciate the strong commitment shown by Minister Carolyn Bennett. This settlement comes at a critical time in Canada and is an important step towards healing the relationship between Canada and the Waywayseecappo First Nation.”

Chief Murray Clearsky
Waywayseecappo First Nation

“Achieved through dialogue and mediation, this historic settlement addresses past wrongs and is a major step forward on the path of reconciliation with Waywayseecappo First Nation. It shows what we can achieve when we work together to seek justice and reach shared solutions guided by the values of respect and partnership. This settlement will also help create new opportunities for the First Nation to advance their ongoing work to improve community well-being and promote local economic initiatives.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Addressing historical wrongs is critical in rebuilding our nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples. We thank Chief Clearsky and his negotiation team, as well as the Waywayseecappo First Nation for their dedication and collaborative efforts to bring about the successful resolution of this specific claim. We congratulate the Waywayseecappo First Nation on the successful addition to reserve and the creation of the Waywayseecappo Highway 10 Indian Reserve. ”

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C, M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

“Today’s announcement of a negotiated settlement for the 1881 Surrender Specific Claim is an important step toward reconciliation with Waywayseecappo First Nation, in Manitoba and for Canada as a whole. The agreement will ensure that Waywayseecappo First Nation can invest in its community today, for the benefit of generations to come.”

The Honourable Jim Carr,
Minister and Special Representative for the Prairies

Quick facts

  • The Waywayseecappo First Nation is located 32 km east of Russell in Manitoba,  near the southwestern corner of the Riding Mountain National Park. 

  • First Nation members approved the settlement in a community vote, with 92 percent of those who voted voting in favour.

  • The settlement was signed by the First Nation on July 19, 2019 and by Canada on June 30, 2020. 

  • Under the settlement, the First Nation can buy up to 21,013 acres of land on the open market and apply to have it added to their reserve.

  • Under the Specific Claims Policy, Canada does not take away land from third parties to settle specific claims. Settlements provide First Nations with capital that can be invested in land purchases on a willing-buyer/willing seller basis and create new opportunities for community and economic development that can benefit First Nations and local/regional economies.

  • A number of steps must be completed before land is designated as reserve land, including consultation with other Indigenous groups and municipalities

  • On May 14, 2019 Waywayseecappo First Nation requested that a parcel of land located approximately one kilometer north of the City of Brandon be set apart as the Waywayseecappo Highway 10 Indian Reserve. 

  • The lands were acquired by Canada on June 15, 2020, under the administration of the Minister of Indigenous Services in accordance with the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act and its regulations and set apart as reserve lands on June 30, 2020.

  • Negotiated settlements help to address past wrongs, strengthen relationships and advance reconciliation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

David Meeches
Waywayseecappo First Nation
204-796-0440
dmeeches@gmail.com

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