The plan appropriated lands from 1898 to 1954 and involuntarily took graduates of residential and industrial schools from different communities and relocated them to Peepeekisis Cree Nation to live and learn to farm on the lands that were taken from the community without consent and compensation.
On Wednesday, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations attended the Cree Nation, which is located 38 kilometres east of Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., to offer a formal apology for the federal government’s role in the plan.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am truly sorry for the harm, trauma, and significant loss in agricultural land the community of Peepeekisis Cree Nation has experienced due to Canada’s role in the File Hills Colony Scheme,” Marc Miller said in a release.
“Acknowledging our past wrongs and addressing them is critical to building trust, and renewing and improving our relationship with Indigenous Peoples.”
Last August, the federal government and Peepeekisis Cree Nation reached a settlement regarding the File Hills Colony specific claim. Under the terms of the settlement, Peepeekisis Cree Nation will receive $150 million in compensation. There is also an option for Peepeekisis to acquire up to 18,720 acres of land to be added to the reserve.
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The nation’s chief said the scheme not only displaced people from Peepeekisis Cree Nation from their lands but also displaced others of different communities from their homes and families.
“Our Nation and its Peoples have experienced harm, trauma and disruption in their ways of life through the forced imposition and transfer of graduates to Peepeekisis from other Nations,” stated Peepeekisis Cree Nation Chief Francis Dieter.
“The File Hills Colony Scheme left a legacy of division, however through the recent settlement and the acknowledgement of its wrongdoing, Canada’s apology to our Nation and our People, can allow us to move forward on our path to healing our Nation and becoming one People of Peepeekisis.”
The government of Canada says it will continue to work alongside Peepeekisis Cree Nation to build the relationship between the two nations for the benefit of all Canadians.