Five BC First Nations settle 20-year Treaty Land Entitlement claims with BC and Canada
Blueberry River First Nations, Doig River First Nation, Halfway River First Nation, Saulteau First Nations, and West Moberly First Nations mark the resolution of long-standing Treaty 8 land claims.
On April 15, 2023, five First Nations in the Peace River region of northeastern British Columbia announced they have reached a significant agreement with the federal and provincial governments on their Treaty Land Entitlement claims. The agreements include compensation for the loss of thousands of acres of land owed to the First Nations under Treaty 8, as well as the allocation of approximately 44,266 hectares of Crown land to the First Nations. For more than 100 years, the First Nations were deprived of the use and benefit of thousands of acres of land owed to them under Treaty 8, while the resources on and under those lands were taken and developed by others.
Among the First Nations involved in the settlement is the Blueberry River First Nations, who have long been deprived of the use and benefit of their traditional territory. This settlement is part of an ongoing process of recognition and healing from Blueberry River’s difficult history of displacement and marginalization within their traditional territory. The settlement will provide greater predictability and economic opportunities for everyone in the region.
The resolution of these Treaty Land Entitlement claims is the result of dedicated efforts by Chiefs, Councils, communities and negotiators since 2004. A team of Ratcliff lawyers is honoured to have acted on behalf of Blueberry River First Nations for nearly 20 years in pursuit of a resolution of these Treaty Land Entitlement Specific Claim.
Under the settlement agreements, Canada will provide the First Nations compensation for these losses and costs relating to the claims. In addition to monetary compensation from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia will provide approximately 44,266 hectares (109,385 acres) of Crown land to the First Nations. The Province of Alberta has also agreed to provide an amount of land to the Doig River First Nation in that province. The Province of British Columbia has also committed to honouring Treaty 8 and settling Treaty Land Entitlement claims with other First Nations in the Peace River area.
Honouring Treaty and legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships are fundamental to addressing historical wrongs and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. These settlements will also create economic and business opportunities for the entire northeastern region of British Columbia.
Chief Judy Desjarlais of Blueberry River First Nations called the settlement a monumental day for their community and an ongoing process of recognition and healing from their long and difficult history of displacement and marginalization within their traditional territory. She said they have overcome many significant challenges and obstacles through almost two decades of negotiations to achieve fair compensation from the Crown for their Treaty Land Entitlement claim.
The resolution of these Treaty Land Entitlement claims is an important step toward reconciliation in the Peace River area and will help build healthy communities and prosperous, thriving economies. Honouring Treaty 8 will bring benefits to everyone who lives in the northeast.
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