Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and Ottawa agree to $127M settlement
The Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the federal government have reached a settlement agreement regarding the 1919 Soldier Settlement Board surrender claim.
Compensation of $127.9 million will be awarded to the First Nation due to the federal government’s breach of pre-surrender and post-surrender obligations just over 100 years ago.
Veterans who returned to Canada after the First World War received government land, including 8,960 acres — or about 3,600 hectares — of land taken from Muskeg Lake.
The First Nation will also have the option of requesting the addition of 3,600 hectares of land to its reserve lands. The government said it was the « same amount that was stolen over 100 years ago ».
Until this settlement, the government said the First Nation had received “minimal compensation” for these lands.
Minister of Indigenous-Crown Relations Marc Miller was present when the agreement was announced today at the First Nation.
Chief Kelly Wolf said the minister’s presence was important to the community as it was a « very special day » in the community.
« We wanted Minister Miller to be here to see the land and I had the opportunity to show him the 8,900 acres that were an invalid cession of our community and talked about the families that were displaced, » said he declared.
Wolf said the settlement was finalized on August 3 and the department played a vital role in ensuring the case continued to move forward.
« It is an important day as our ancestors, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers look down from above and celebrate but honor those who lived through the hardships of 1919. »
Wolf said the money has been deposited into the Muskeg Lake Trust and will be distributed to community members on a per capita, per member basis.
Miller spoke at the event and said he was glad the community considers it a day of celebration.
« It’s something that should never have happened and took a hundred years to fix, » Miller said.
He said the compensation is not meant to replace the damage done, but is meant to provide a possibility for a better future for the First Nation and its members.
“It is important that Canada recognize its wrongdoings and continue to honor its legal obligations to Indigenous peoples, including the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.