Today a historic offering from the Canadian government was made to the people of Siksika Nation — a $1.3 billion settlement — resembling an apology for stolen land.
“Today is about recognizing [the] terrible injustice of the past,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“This settlement focuses on past wrongs dating back to 1910 when the Government of Canada wrongfully took almost half of Siksika’s Nations land,” said Trudeau.
“That treaty took place 140 years ago and a lot of the promises in that treaty were broken,” said Head Chief of Siksika Nation, Ouray Crowfoot.
The 1910 global settlement agreement addresses when Canada broke its Blackfoot treaty promise more than a century ago and took almost half of the Siksika nation’s reserve land, including some of its agricultural lands, to sell to people who settled in the area.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, and Siksika Nation band council members were present for the ceremony on Siksika Nation Thursday.
It will resolve outstanding land claims, including about 46,500 hectares of Siksika’s reserve and certain mineral rights taken by Canada.
“This is stuff that’s been going on for 60 years righting a wrong that shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” said Miller.
Crowfoot says this settlement will not erase what happened – but it will help renew a broken relationship.
“So now is a new day. We start the day. We build relationships and we move forward,” said Crowfoot.
Crowfoot says with this money – they hope to bring back policing.
Siksika is the second-largest First Nation in Canada but does not have law enforcement. The money will also be put towards residential school searches, mental health supports, infrastructure, and several other initiatives.
“It’s not about the money. it’s about the opportunities that can come from the money,” said Crowfoot.
“You think of all the growth that could have happened, all the opportunities they could have had. That’s why we sat down in very careful and robust negotiations to figure out the right amount to move forward on,” said Trudeau.
Siksika Nation says each member of the First Nation will receive $20,000 in July as part of the settlement.
“So as we move forward as a First Nation, we make Alberta better and as Alberta becomes better, Canada becomes better,” said Crowfoot.
Trudeau also met with elders from the First Nation and took part in traditional dancing.