A Federal Court judge has ruled the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta is entitled to more land.
In a judgement released Wednesday, the court said Canada failed to live up to its land entitlement provisions in the Blackfoot Treaty of 1877, more commonly known as Treaty 7.
That treaty said the Blood Tribe was entitled to a reserve equal to more than 1,100 square kilometres, but the tribe’s current land area only encompasses about 881 square kilometres.
“Canada is liable to the Blood Tribe for this breach of treaty,” wrote Judge Russel W. Zinn in the conclusion of his judgement.
In its land claim, which dates back to 1980, the Blood Tribe said Canada failed to fulfill its obligation to provide 1.6 square kilometres of land for every five band members.
The Blood Tribe had also sought to have its southern boundary stretch to the U.S. border and east to the St. Mary River, as well as west towards the mountains. The court denied that part of their claim.
In its ruling, the court said it will be arranging a trial management conference to address how the Blood Tribe will be compensated.
“The Blood Tribe trusts that given the history of the Big Claim, and the fact that both the ICC (Indian Claims Commission) and the Federal Court have found that the Blood Tribe has a valid claim, that Canada will not be appealing this recent judgement and that there will be finality to this long outstanding treaty obligation,” the tribe said in a news release.
Ottawa has 30 days to decide if it will appeal the court’s decision.
Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox said he is hopeful the government will respect the ruling.
“In the spirit of reconciliation and trying to right previous wrongs done to Indigenous people, we are hoping that they will realize this is certainly one tangible way that they could put some meat behind their words,” Fox told Global News late Wednesday.