Siyam Shane James of the Shxwawhamel First Nations speaks during an announcement of a settlement claim worth more than $150 million. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Siyam Shane James of the Shxwawhamel First Nations speaks during an announcement of a settlement claim worth more than $150 million. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Government settles land claim for Seabird reserve gaffe

Seven First Nations bands receive about $21 million each as a settlement aimed at reconciliation

Reconciliation took a big leap forward on Tuesday in Hope, as the federal government met with local First Nations chiefs to finally settle outstanding claims.

In total, the Government of Canada has compensated seven First Nations bands with more than $150 million. That amount will be divided seven ways, giving about $21 million each to the Popkum, Chawathil, Shxw’ōw’hámel, Skawahlook, Yale, Peters and Union Bar First Nations.

A ceremony was held at the Chawathil gymnasium, with Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations attending along with chiefs and representatives from each band. Along with drumming, prayers and gift giving, there were many speakers who explained the significance of the settlement.

These negotiated settlements are meant to resolve a legal obligation owed by Canada to these First Nations, from when a reserve they held in common was transferred in 1959 to the then-newly formed Seabird Island First Nation without meaningful consent or compensation.

“Resolving historical grievances are critical to renewing the relationship and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people,” Bennett said. “These specific claims settlement with the Popkum, Chawathil, Shxw’ōw’hámel, Skawahlook, Yale, Peters and Union Bar First Nations not only right a past wrong but provide these First Nations with financial compensation that they can invest into the well being of their communities.”

Siyam Shane James of Shxw’ōw’hámel said the difference will be seen in the near future, as bands have the opportunity to purchase lands surrounding them to increase their reserves’ land bases. He said their councils have been working toward this development over the last year, and hope that future purchases will boost their economic development opportunities.

A truck stop is being planned for the future that will benefit everyone, he said as an example.

“This will us to purchase more land for future generations,” he said in a speech. The settlement is based on the purchase of up to 560 acres for each reserve, although that land has not been identified yet.

James said the bands will work together now to make sure they are purchasing land respectfully. They will be looking at both Crown land and private properties.

“It’s an exciting day as we right wrongs,” Bennett added.

“This has been a long road,” noted Chief James Murphy, of Popkum. “We filed this claim well over a decade ago. When Canada rejected the claim we took it to the Specific Claims Tribunal and won. Our victory at the Specific Claims Tribunal proves that the process works. We are grateful that we have access to an impartial process to resolve historical issues and we commend Canada for negotiating an honourable settlement with us”

Everyone noted that Murphy worked hard to ensure this week’s settlement came to being.

“Skawahlook First Nation appreciates all of Chief James Murphy’s efforts in achieving this specific claim and, particularly, for ensuring our community benefited,” said Chief Maureen Chapman, from Skawahlook. “We also appreciate Minister Bennett and her colleagues efforts and their decision to do the honourable thing and approve the settlement which will help Skawahlook First Nation to thrive.”

The ceremony was attended by many members of the community, including several youth. Speakers noted that it would be up to the youth to remember this day and carry forward with the work that’s been done to date.

“As the descendants of our past leaders that had the wisdom and always held the vision and well-being of forming a land base for their families, we remain respectful to carry on this tradition in a good way for the benefit of our future generations,” said Chief Rhoda Peters. “Our hands go up to the seven First Nation leaders and the external governments for bringing closure to this land mark decision.”

The Seabird Island Reserve, which is approximately 3,920 acres, was originally allotted in common to these seven First Nations in the 1870s.

In 2014, the Specific Claim Tribunal determined that Canada had breached its legal obligations when it transferred the reserve without providing the seven First Nations any compensation. In 2017 the specific claims were accepted for negotiations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Government settles land claim for Seabird reserve gaffe

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, holds a claims settlement with Rhoda Peters of Chawathil First Nation. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, holds a claims settlement with Rhoda Peters of Chawathil First Nation. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, receives gifts from an elder during a ceremony at Chawathil on Tuesday morning. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, receives gifts from an elder during a ceremony at Chawathil on Tuesday morning. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Government settles land claim for Seabird reserve gaffe

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, receives gifts from an elder during a ceremony at Chawathil on Tuesday morning. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)                                Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations speaks about the importance in reconciling the Seabird settlement with local First Nations. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, receives gifts from an elder during a ceremony at Chawathil on Tuesday morning. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press) Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations speaks about the importance in reconciling the Seabird settlement with local First Nations. (Jessica Peters/ Black Press)

Just Posted

Emergency crews in Chilliwack were called to a report of a vehicle down an embankment at Chipmunk Creek on April 18, 2021, at about 4 p.m. (Google Maps)
Chilliwack emergency crews respond to vehicle down embankment at Chipmunk Creek

Search and Rescue join other responders to report of person trapped in vehicle for hours

Alisa Gusakova was one of two Grade 12 Chilliwack students who received a $5,000 Horatio Alger Canadian Scholarship earlier this year. Now, a fundraiser has been created for the teen after her mother was killed. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fundraiser launched for daughter of Chilliwack woman killed

Money raised will help Chilliwack teen attend UFV to earn business degree

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Agassiz Fire Department has been called to an ATV rollover on Harrison East Forest Service Road on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Google Maps)
Agassiz Fire called out to ATV rollover incident on Harrison FSR

Morning call follows exceptionally busy Saturday as temperatures soar in Fraser Valley

A Chilliwack Search and Rescue truck heads down Vedder Road towards Cultus Lake to assist a dirtbiker with a broken leg. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Emergency crews, SAR busy with three separate outdoor recreation incidents in Chilliwack area

Calls in 1 afternoon include ATV collision, parachuter who fell from tree, dirtbiker with broken leg

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read