Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and Ottawa reach agreement on $127M settlement

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Minister Marc Miller and Chief Kelly Wolf spoke at Thursday's settlement announcement in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC News - image credit)
Minister Marc Miller and Chief Kelly Wolf spoke at Thursday's settlement announcement in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC News - image credit)

Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and the federal government have reached a settlement agreement for the 1919 Soldier Settlement Board Surrender claim.

Compensation of $127.9 million dollars will be given to the First Nation due to the federal government's breach of pre-surrender and post-surrender obligations just over 100 years ago.

Veterans returning to Canada after the First World War received land from the government, including 8,960 acres — or about 3,600 hectares — of land taken from Muskeg Lake.

The First Nation will also have the option to apply for 3,600 hectares of land to be added to its reserve land. The government said this is the "same amount that was stolen over 100 years ago."

Until this settlement, the government said the First Nation had received "minimal compensation" for this land.

Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Marc Miller was present at the announcement of the agreement today in the First Nation.

Chief Kelly Wolf said the minister's attendance was important to the community as it was a "very special day" in the community.

"We wanted to have Minister Miller here to see the land and I had the opportunity to show him the 8,900 acres that was an invalid surrender from our community and talked about the families that were displaced," he said.

Wolf said the settlement was finalised on Aug. 3, and the ministry has played a vital role in ensuring the file kept moving.

"This is an important day as our ancestors and our great-grandmothers and our great-grandfathers are watching from above and also celebrating yet honouring those who lived through the hardships of 1919."

Wolf said the money has been deposited into Muskeg Lake's trust and will be distributed to community members on a per capita, per member basis.

Miller spoke at the event and said he is glad the community considers this a celebratory day.

"This is something that should have never have happened and has taken a hundred years to fix," Miller said.

He said the compensation is not meant to replace the damage done but it's meant to provide an opportunity for a better future for the First Nation and its members.

"It's important that Canada recognizes its wrongs and continues to honour its legal obligations towards Indigenous people, including Muskeg Lake Cree Nation."

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