Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan will receive millions of dollars in compensation on Wednesday from a settlement that stems from a dispute dating back to the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.
The Specific Claims Tribunal ruled in 2015 that the federal government breached its lawful obligation to pay the First Nation members treaty annuities after the Northwest Rebellion.
The First Nation announced in December that the tribunal had awarded it $4.5 million and that the government had until late January to appeal.
Following the rebellion, the federal government at the time believed Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation members were involved in the resistance and withheld annuities from the First Nation and 13 others in Saskatchewan from 1885 to 1888.
The First Nation says on its website that it will make a one-time, $250 payment to registered members.
It says it has also set up a trust fund and will use the borrowing power to help refinance an existing consolidation loan, as well as secure a loan for the re-development of a community-owned service station.
“We feel that distributing the total sum of the settlement would not be a responsible course of action. We do however recognize the current, immediate needs of our people,” a statement on the First Nation’s website said.
“With these two critical factors in mind, we have developed a plan that strikes an appropriate balance of protecting our Nation’s future, while meeting some of the immediate needs of our people.”
The First Nation is about 90 kilometres north of Saskatoon.
The per capita distribution of money will happen March 2 and 3 at the community’s recreation centre.
After the rebellion, the federal government labelled men, women and children on the First Nation, along with the 13 others, as “rebel Indians” even though many could not have possibly taken part in the resistance.
In addition to withholding annuity payments, a pass system was strictly enforced, not allowing residents to leave the reserves without permission.