Canada and the Okanagan Indian Band sign agreement for an advance payment against settlement of specific claim
March 20, 2023 — Okanagan Indian Band, British Columbia — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Today, Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada and the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) have reached an innovative agreement whereby Canada will make an advance payment of $30 million to the Band to be applied against the anticipated settlement of the Colonial Reserve IR 1 Specific Claim.
This advance payment can be used by OKIB with its purchase of the O'Keefe Range Lands, which are located within the claim area, adjacent to Okanagan IR 1, and in the City of Vernon. Expanding their lands will support the community as they advance their vision of self-determination.
Canada and OKIB have been in negotiations to resolve Colonial Reserve IR 1 Specific Claim for 11 years, and will continue working in partnership to achieve a final settlement as soon as possible. This specific claim addresses disputed lands OKIB asserts were allocated to it in 1861 under the instruction of Governor Douglas, but were then reduced in size by the colonial government of British Columbia in 1865, without consulting the community.
This is the first time the Government of Canada has made an advance payment to a First Nation community to be applied against an anticipated specific claim settlement. We will continue working with First Nations to find and implement innovative solutions like this one, including the development of a fuller framework for advance payments. These solutions will help reduce delays and barriers that First Nations face during the specific claims process, so Canada can live up to its obligations as a Treaty partner and address historical wrongs.
"We acknowledge and thank Minister Miller for his involvement in the agreement to provide OKIB with an advance payment of $30 million with respect to this very important claim. Canada showed great foresight with this agreement, which will allow us to take advantage of a rare opportunity to expand our reserve lands. We've been negotiating for over 11 years and now need to work with Canada to take the final steps to resolve the claim itself."
Chief Byron Louis
Okanagan Indian Band
"This agreement marks a long overdue step in Canada's relationship with OKIB. After 11 years of negotiations due to broken relationships and trust, Canada is taking a step to renew our relationship with the community and to be a Treaty partner that First Nations deserve. This innovative approach to support the acquisition of the O'Keefe Range Lands before the final settlement of the specific claim demonstrates Canada's commitment to renewing our relationships with Indigenous Peoples. I would like to thank Chief Louis and the negotiators for their ongoing partnership as we work to finalize this settlement in the near future."
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
The Okanagan Indian Band is located in British Columbia in the city of Vernon in the northern Okanagan Valley.
The Colonial Reserve - Okanagan IR 1 Specific Claim was accepted for negotiation in 2011.
Canada has a longstanding policy and process in place to resolve specific claims by negotiating settlements with First Nations. Since January 1, 2016, it has settled more than 241 specific claims with First Nations, totalling $7.5 billion in compensation.
From January 1st, 2022 to January 31, 2023, 55 claims were resolved for $2.4 billion in compensation; 72 claims were filed with the Minister and Canada made an offer to negotiate on 71 claims.
Working in partnership with First Nations, Canada has resolved over 646 specific claims since 1973.
For more information, media may contact:
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
CIRNAC Media Relations:
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