Five B.C. First Nations reach settlement with the provincial and federal governments on Treaty Land Entitlement claims
April 15, 2023 — Vancouver, British Columbia — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Today, Judy Desjarlais, Chief of Blueberry River First Nations; Trevor Makadahay, Chief of Doig River First Nation; Darlene Hunter, Chief of Halfway River First Nation; Justin Napoleon, Chief of Saulteau First Nations; and Roland Willson, Chief of West Moberly First Nations; along with the Honourable Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; the Honourable Premier David Eby and the Honourable Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation in British Columbia, announced settlement agreements of the Nations’ Treaty Land Entitlements claims. The settlements resolve long-outstanding claims that these First Nations did not receive all of the lands owed to them under Treaty 8, which they signed in 1899.
Honouring Treaty and legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships are fundamental to addressing historical wrongs and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. These settlements will also create economic and business opportunities for the entire Northeast region of British Columbia.
For more than 100 years, the First Nations were deprived of the use and benefit of thousands of acres of land owed to them under Treaty 8, while the resources on and under those lands were taken and developed by others. Under the settlement agreements, Canada will provide the First Nations compensation for these losses and costs relating to the claims. In addition to monetary compensation from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia will provide 109,385 acres of Crown land to the First Nations. In a related agreement, the Province of Alberta has also agreed to provide an amount of land to the Doig River First Nation in that province.
The resolution of these Treaty Land Entitlement claims is the result of the dedicated effort by the chiefs, councils, communities and negotiators since 2004. These Treaty Land Entitlement settlement agreements demonstrate the federal and provincial governments’ commitment to advancing reconciliation – one that shows our commitment to build trust, acknowledges and respects the Treaty relationship, and helps build a better future for all Canadians.
“This is a monumental day for the Blueberry River First Nations community, our elders and the ancestors who came before us. This settlement is part of an ongoing process of recognition and healing from Blueberry’s long and difficult history of displacement and marginalization within our traditional territory. We have overcome many significant challenges and obstacles through almost two decades of negotiations to achieve fair compensation from the Crown for our Treaty Land Entitlement claim. We still have a long way to go; but, in the spirit of truth, transparency and reconciliation, we are setting a path for the next seven generations to be able to continue our traditional and cultural way of life on the land our ancestors were from, which they called: ‘Su Nachii K’chige’ – the place where happiness dwells.”
Chief, Blueberry River First Nations
“Council is very committed to meeting with you all in the future and the membership are very happy to have TLE settled and a substantial investment in our local community and northeast BC with our Urban Reserve.”
Chief, Doig River First Nation
“Halfway’s ancestors adhered to Treaty No. 8 in 1914 but never received the full land entitlement promised to them under the Treaty. Halfway filed a specific claim in November 1995 for those lands, and started negotiations in December 2002. Now, 99 years later, Halfway has finally resolved this outstanding Treaty promise with Canada and BC. This settlement will benefit not only the current generation of Halfway members, but also the generations to come.”
Chief, Halfway River First Nation
“We are very happy to have finally reached a settlement with BC and Canada. Our elders, our community, and our past leaders worked for decades to mend this broken treaty promise. They never lost faith and they proved that it can be done. We are grateful for the support that we’ve received from neighbouring communities and people across the region. Now we can take another step forward together and show that honouring the Treaty will help make BC a more fair and more prosperous place for everyone.”
Chief Justin Napoleon
Chief, Saulteau First Nations
“It has been a long hard journey to get us here to this point today! We’re thankful to finally be able to move into implementation. Thanks to those who worked diligently on this historic claim, including previous Chiefs, Councils, elders, members and legal teams. It feels good to finally be moving into the next stage – now the work begins. We look forward to working collaboratively with both governments as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow. What we have been able to accomplish here, will set the stage for the next generations to continue to move our Nations forward in a positive manner!”
Chief, West Moberly First Nations
“A truth that cannot be ignored is that, for far too long, promises, trust and relationships with Indigenous Peoples were broken because Canada did not live up to its obligations as a Treaty partner. Now, we must work together to address that legacy, and to renew our relationships to last generations. I would like to thank the Chiefs, Councils, and the province of British Columbia. As we advance this critical work together, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the spirit and intent of Treaty 8.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
“Honouring Treaty 8 is a critical part of B.C.’s work to advance reconciliation in the Peace River area and reconnect these nations with their land. By settling the Treaty Land Entitlement claims, we’re righting an historic injustice and restoring what was promised under treaty. This is an important step that will provide greater predictability and economic opportunities for everyone in the region.”
The Honourable David Eby, Premier of British Columbia
“The settling of the Treaty Land Entitlement claim is an historic step towards reconciliation in the Peace River area and will help build healthy communities and prosperous, thriving economies. Honouring Treaty 8 will bring benefits to everyone who lives in the northeast.”
The Honourable Murray Rankin
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, British Columbia
Blueberry River First Nations are a signatory of Treaty 8. Located in the Peace region of northeastern British Columbia, the Nation has both Beaver and Cree cultural groups that exist together, forming one community.
Doig River First Nation is Tsááʔ ché ne dane, a proud Dane-zaa people indigenous to the upper Peace River region of British Columbia and Alberta. The community is located in northeastern British Columbia, approximately 70 km northeast of Fort St. John.
Halfway River First Nation was originally located on the Chowade River. Through a relocation into IR 168, Halfway River First Nation became situated where they are today, north of the Halfway River approximately 75 km northwest of Fort St John.
Saulteau First Nations are a proud and culturally strong people. The main Saulteau community is located at Moberly Lake, 100 km southwest of Fort St. John, near Chetwynd.
West Moberly First Nations are on Moberly Lake and are a signatory to Treaty 8.
First Nations who did not receive all the land they were entitled to under treaties signed by the Crown and First Nations can file a Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) claim with the Government of Canada. TLE settlement agreements are negotiated between First Nations and the Government of Canada, typically with the participation of provincial/territorial governments.
From April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, 56 specific claims were resolved for $3,515,647,357 in compensation, 64 claims were filed with the Minister and Canada, and Canada made an offer to negotiate on 56 claims. Working in partnership with First Nations, Canada has resolved over 665 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:
Communications contact for Saulteau First Nations
Name: Niki Ghostkeeper
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
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