Matsqui First Nation to receive more than $59 million in effort to address past wrong

News release

February 21, 2024 — Matsqui First Nation Territory, Abbotsford, British Columbia — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada is working to renew the relationships with Indigenous Peoples in Canada based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. That work includes paying compensation to First Nations through specific claims settlements to address past wrongs committed by the federal government. 

Today, Alice McKay, Chief of Matsqui First Nation, and the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced a settlement of more than $59 million to compensate Matsqui for the taking of its reserve lands without adequate compensation and for severing access to their reserve lands through the building of the Vancouver Power Company Right-of-Way on Sahhacum Indian Reserve 1 and Matsqui Main Indian Reserve 2. 

In 1908, Canada granted the Vancouver Power Company rights of way—referring to the corridor of land taken from the reserve—for the construction and operation of a tramway across two Matsqui First Nation reserves. Matsqui did not receive adequate compensation for the taking of its reserve lands. Additionally, Canada was supposed to ensure crossings were built and maintained across the rights of way, but did not uphold that agreement. As a result, Matsqui’s access to its reserve lands was cut off. 

Decades of colonial policies, including the denial and dispossession of land, have created socio-economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Honouring Canada’s legal obligations and properly compensating Indigenous Peoples for what was unlawfully taken or withheld from them is fundamental for rebuilding trust with Indigenous communities.

The successful resolution of claims like this one is a key step in reconciliation with First Nations—one that acknowledges and addresses the wrongs of the past and helps to build a better future for everyone in Canada.


“Matsqui First Nation and our Matsqui Government are very pleased to have reached a settlement with Canada on this important claim, and for Canada to have acknowledged its historic wrongs. We recognize Canada’s commitment to renew relationships and to the process of resolving claims. We look forward to working together to continue the healing journey and to reaching settlements on Matsqui’s other outstanding claims.”  

Alice McKay 
Chief, Matsqui First Nation Government 

“I often say, first truth, then reconciliation. The Government of Canada today is acknowledging and trying to set right its past treatment of First Nations. Historically, the government was not a good partner in these nation-to-nation relationships. Today’s celebration of this resolution is a symbol of our ongoing commitment to showing up as an equal partner with a desire to do better in our relationship with Matsqui First Nation and beyond.” 

The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • Màthexwi Tribe (also known as Matsqui First Nation) is a Stó:lō community of nearly 300 members, most of whom reside in the present-day City of Abbotsford. The core territory of Matsqui stretches along the Fraser River from Crescent Island to Sumas Mountain, and southward beyond the Canada-United States border.

  • The term specific claim generally refers to claims by First Nations against the Crown related to First Nation reserve lands and assets and to the non-fulfilment of historic treaties and other agreements. 

  • From January 1, 2016, to January 31, 2024, 283 claims have been resolved for close to $10 billion in compensation. Since the Specific Claims program began in 1973 to January 31, 2024, 688 claims totalling $13.9 billion in compensation have been settled through negotiations.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Angela Ryan
Assistant to Chief Alice McKay
Matsqui First Nation

Matthieu Perrotin
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations 

CIRNAC Media Relations:

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