Toronto, Canada, June 2 (EFE).- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday signed a historic $1.3-billion land claim settlement with an indigenous Canadian group for “wrongfully” taking almost half of their reserve land more than a century ago.
Trudeau signed the settlement with tribal chief Ouray Crowfoot of the Siksika Nation in a ceremony at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park in Alberta to reach “one of the largest agreements of its kind reached in Canada,” said an official statement.
“The settlement aims to right past wrongs dating back over a century when the government broke its Blackfoot Treaty promise and wrongfully took almost half of Siksika Nation’s reserve land,” the statement said.
The compensation resolves several litigations over outstanding land claims, including about 46,500 hectares of Siksika’s Reserve and certain mineral rights taken by Canada in 1910.
The statement said the agreement is part of his commitment to addressing “historical wrongs and the lasting impacts of colonialism, while supporting healing for First Nations.”
“The agreement is the culmination of over 60 years of relentless advocacy and leadership by the Siksika Nation,” said Trudeau.
“It is also an opportunity to look forward as we build a better future together – one that is based on nation-to-nation dialog, partnership, and respect.”
Crowfoot said the settlement was “long overdue for the people of Siksika Nation.”
“Canada is not giving $1.3 billion to Siksika. Canada is righting a wrong committed over a century ago when Canada illegally took 115,000 acres of lands provided to Siksika.”
The tribal chief said the compensation from the settlement could assist Siksika developing financial sovereignty and provide more opportunities to the indigenous group.
In 1910, Canada took the land and mineral rights in violation of the Blackfoot Treaty signed in 1877 between the government and five First Nations, including the Siksika Nation.
Trudeau has said reconciliation with indigenous people was one of his priorities since he came to power in 2015.
But Crowfoot suggested that the government needed to “stop using the word reconciliation.”
“The settlement does not undo wrongs from the past. Canada needs to know that you will never reconcile, you will never make it whole,” he said.
“(The) land claim will never make it whole of what it was before. But we have got to move forward.” EFE