CALGARY — Residents of Canada’s largest reserve are to receive $150 million by the end of summer to settle a historic claim that the federal government devastated the Blood Tribe’s cattle industry more than a century ago.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Chief Roy Fox held a signing ceremony Thursday in Calgary.
The claim deals with Crown mismanagement of the reserve’s cattle ranching assets from 1894 to 1923.
“We need to ensure that we correct the wrongs that were done to our people and we appreciate the work you have done on this matter,” Fox said to Bennett.
“In that spirit we hope to have the same success with other land claims and initiatives that are in progress now.”
Fox was referring to a recent ruling by a Federal Court judge that found Ottawa underestimated the number of Blood Tribe members in southwestern Alberta when their reserve was created in the 1870s.
The ruling could add up to 421 square kilometres to the band’s reserve, already more than 1,400 square kilometres in size.
The court said the band may also seek compensation in lieu of land.
Bennett said her government will continue to work toward settling outstanding claims and it’s something that all Canadians should be aware of.
“This is one of many wrongs that were done and an attempt to right this wrong as we continue to work together on a better path,” she said.
“Settling claims is the right thing to do.”
Fox said $123 million from the cattle claim settlement will be used for housing, capital works, a new administration building and a new skating rink.
“Of course our people also insisted that we give per capita but I think the majority of the money will be used to build capital projects that will be there for a long time.”
Bennett said the government is willing to start negotiations regarding the land claim but she’s not how soon that will begin.
“I think in the art of the possible we get the ball rolling but I think that we want the people of your nation, chief, to know … we will keep negotiating right up until the writ drops.”
A federal election is expected in October.