Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the chief of the Siksika First Nation have signed a historic land claim settlement, which the federal government says is one of the largest agreements of its kind in Canada.
“We’re gathered today to right a wrong from the past,” Trudeau said during the ceremony.
“We’re gathered to give ourselves a chance to start rebuilding trust between us, nation to nation.”
The federal government said the settlement dates back more than a century when Canada broke its Blackfoot Treaty promise and took almost half of Siksika Nation’s reserve land, including some of its agricultural lands, to sell to people who settled in the area.
The agreement provides $1.3 billion in compensation to Siksika Nation to resolve outstanding land claims, which includes about 46,500 hectares of Siksika’s Reserve and certain mineral rights taken by Canada.
Trudeau said it’s important to move forward as partners with Indigenous people.
“This settlement will enable you to invest in your priorities like infrastructure, education and supports for Elders and youth,” he told those gathered. “It will create new economic, social and cultural opportunities.”
Crowfoot said the settlement doesn’t make up for past wrongs, but it will make a difference in people’s lives.
“Canada needs to stop using the word reconciliation. You will never reconcile, you will never make it whole,” he said.
“This land claim — $1.3 billion, that’s a lot of money — it will never make it whole of what it was before. But we’ve got to move forward. What the $1.3 (billion) can do is provide opportunities, opportunities we didn’t have before.
“I do see the tide turning for Siksika — I see us becoming a thriving nation.”
Siksika’s website says each member of the First Nation is to receive $20,000 in July as part of the settlement.
— With files from Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press