Indigenous Success Stories: First Nations

June 12, 2023

First Nations

Secwépemc leader George Manuel honoured with a Canada Post stamp

Manuel led Constitution Express to Ottawa to lobby for Indigenous rights inclusion in Constitution

A Canada Post stamp with a black and white photo of George Manuel looking at the viewer. In colour he wear a buckskin jacket with fringe.
George Manuel, a Secwépemc man from the Neskonlith Indian Band, held numerous political roles including serving as president of the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nation) from 1970 to 1976.  (Canada Post )

CBC News: An influential Secwépemc leader from the Neskonlith Indian Band is being honoured with a Canada Post stamp that was unveiled Monday in North Vancouver.  

George Manuel was chosen to be one of three people honoured this year in Canada Post’s multi-year Indigenous Leaders series, which started last year to celebrate prominent Indigenous people on National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. But friends and family of the late Manuel say his impact on the rights of Indigenous people within Canada and globally has been under-celebrated. 

Doreen Manuel, Manuel’s daughter, said it’s “because of him and leaders like him, we still have Aboriginal title and rights.”

Manuel served as chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, president of the North American Indian Brotherhood, president of the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations), president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and in 1975 founded the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, which had observer status at the United Nations.

Manuel was a vocal opponent of the White Paper in 1969, a federal policy that proposed to abolish the Indian Act and was widely seen as furthering the goal of assimilating Indigenous people.  While president of UBCIC, Manuel led people from Vancouver to Ottawa on a chartered train known as the Constitution Express to protesting the lack of Indigenous rights in the proposed Canadian Constitution. This movement resulted in Section 35 of the Constitution Act which affirmed Indigenous treaty rights. 

“If it wasn’t for him fighting the White Paper policy and fighting for inclusion in the Constitution, our rights would be diminished by now,” said Doreen Manuel. 

She remembers her father as humble and charismatic and the type of person who would remember the names and details of people who he met only once.  “I think that sums him up as a leader, he just really cared about everybody,” she said. 

A little girl in a light coloured dress stands beside her kneeling father in a suit smiling at the camera.
Doreen Manuel with her father George Manuel. (Submitted by Doreen Manuel )

Russ Diabo, a family friend and First Nations policy analyst, said he first met Manuel when Manuel received the Order of Canada in 1986, but knew of his work long before meeting him because of his work with the National Indian Brotherhood and friendship with his sons Robert and Arthur Manuel. 

“He had a big impact, which is still being felt,” said Diabo. 

Manuel was a survivor of the Kamloops residential school, and wrote a book called The Fourth World: An Indian Reality published in 1974. “I think he hasn’t gotten the recognition that he should,” said Diabo. “‘I’m glad to see that they’re recognizing that, and they’re going to celebrate his work by issuing a stamp.”

Nellie Cournoyea, the first Indigenous woman to head a provincial or territorial government in Canada, and Thelma Chalifoux, the first Indigenous woman appointed to the Senate of Canada, are also being honoured with stamps this year.


Jackie McKay, Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC Indigenous covering B.C. She was a reporter for CBC North for more more than five years spending the majority of her time in Nunavut. McKay has also worked in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay, and Yellowknife. Follow her on Twitter @mckayjacqueline.

May 22, 2023

First Nations

Saugeen First Nation holds ceremony to mark historic times at Sauble

Community members dance around the drummers during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Community members dance around the drummers during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

NationTalk: Owen Sound The SUN Times – As members of his community gathered on the sand just north of the iconic Welcome to Sauble Beach sign on Sunday, former Saugeen First Nation chief Vernon Roote recalled the decades he spent fighting for what he always knew belonged to his people.

Roote said after the ceremony that he has been hoping for many years that the boundary issue would be clarified and he is relieved that finally the court has made its ruling. “Even though there are some people who are still opposed, we have received the results and I am very happy with that,” Roote said. “It has been a long time for me. It has been 52 years and for my ancestors, my own council members, I wish they were here – well, they were here in spirit.”

Roote said he is glad and happy after fighting for so long. He said it was great to see his people on the beach with smiles on their faces. “It is almost overwhelming, but it feels good,” he said.

Former Saugeen First Nation Chief Vernon Roote talks during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Former Saugeen First Nation Chief Vernon Roote talks during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

On Sunday Roote provided those in attendance with some history on the eastern boundary claim on which Justice Susan Vella ruled in favour of the First Nation on April 3. Vella’s decision extended the reserve’s northern boundary past the Sauble sign to the area of 7th Street North. The decision said it added about 1.4 miles (2.25 kilometres) of sand beach to the First Nation, west of Lakeshore Boulevard.

Prior to the decision, the popular stretch of beach had previously been owned and maintained by South Bruce Peninsula, which in 2014 turned down a mediated settlement that would have turned the beach over to the First Nation while maintaining public access.

“I have been here working on this file since 1971,” Roote told those in attendance. “For 52 years I have worked on this file putting facts and information together.” Roote shared details of Charles Rankin’s work related to 1854 Treaty 72, which represented the surrender of the entire Saugeen Peninsula to the Crown, except for the five reserve territories for the two local First Nations, the Chippewas of Saugeen and the Chippewas of Nawash.

Vella found Rankin wrongly marked the northern terminus of the eastern boundary of the reserve at Lots 25 and 26 on his final plan, near where the Sauble Beach sign is at the end of Main Street, when it belonged farther north, at Lot 31, as per the treaty. Saugeen First Nation brought its action in 1995, naming Canada – which supported the claim and brought its own claim on behalf of Saugeen in 1990 – and Ontario, the local municipality and four private landowners in the action.

“We had so many obstacles to go through and one of those was the Indian Act,” said Roote, noting that his people at one time couldn’t even hire a lawyer to defend their rights.

Former Saugeen First Nation Chief and current councillor Randall Kahgee talks during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Former Saugeen First Nation Chief and current councillor Randall Kahgee talks during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

Former Chief Randall Kahgee, a current councillor and a lawyer himself, also spoke on Sunday. Kahgee said it was an “awesome day” to be on the beach, which are the historic fishing shores of his people. “It is hard not to get emotional,” Kahgee said. “It has been a long fight and a long journey. That is how it has been coast to coast for our people.”

Kahgee said his people and community have fought for 170 years to get to where they were on Sunday. “With all the things we have endured – the Indian Act, residential schools – we still fought on because in our fundamental belief we always knew this was a part of our lands,” Kahgee said. “We had to see that returned to us.”

Kahgee said he thinks of his ancestors, including his grandparents, who had long hoped to see the day when the beach would be returned to them. He recognized the constant protests by his people – even following Rankin through the bush during his surveys – to ensure they received what was rightfully theirs. “I know they are here with us today and they share in this proud moment with all of our people,” Kahgee said. “I look at these young ones running around and how historic it is to be part of this.”

Kahgee also thanked all the non-Indigenous people in the crowd at Sunday’s events. “Reconciliation is the nice word everyone wants to use now. It is the new buzz word of the day,” said Kahgee. “But it is more than just about words. It is about actions and that is what we need to see. “We thank you for standing with us as we continue to move through this.”

Saugeen First Nation Chief Conrad Ritchie addresses the crowd during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Looking on is band administrator Gerry Glover.
Saugeen First Nation Chief Conrad Ritchie addresses the crowd during a community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Looking on is band administrator Gerry Glover. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

In opening his comments during Sunday’s festivities, current Saugeen First Nation Chief Conrad Ritchie said “it is a good day to be Anishinaabe today.” “We are still here,” Ritchie said. “We have our drums, we have our eagle staffs, we have our language, we have our ceremonies.” Ritchie noted all the young children running around and reminded everyone that they teach their children by being together.

“They ain’t going to change from us telling them. They are going to change through our example, what we set for them,” Ritchie said.

He said after the ceremony that he was feeling a lot of pride. “A lot of things have been going on in the community internally, so it is a change of energy and feel with everybody who is here,” said Ritchie. “I feel good. There are a lot of ancestors who started the advocacy a long time ago and a lot of their relatives are still here.”

Drummers play during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Drummers play during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

Sunday’s celebration began with a beach clean-up in the morning, followed by a barbecue lunch on the beach. There was a pipe ceremony led by Rob Price with drumming and singing followed by prayer and song by elder Strong White Buffalo Woman, or Shirley John. After the speeches and a mini pow wow, there was more musical entertainment throughout the afternoon, followed by a pig roast dinner and more musical entertainment.

South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Gary Michi attended Sunday’s festivities, where he said he was there to support Saugeen First Nation and continue dialogue with them.

South Bruce Peninsula has appealed Vella’s decision, arguing the eastern boundary is not defined in the judge’s decision and by implication her reasoning, which the appeal sets out in detail, could encompass Lakeshore Boulevard, private cottages, homes and businesses. The town has asked the Court of Appeal for Ontario to set aside Vella’s judgment and dismiss Saugeen’s action. Michi has said the town will withdraw its appeal if it receives boundary clarification in writing and guarantee that public access will continue on the beach.

“That is all we really need to settle. In the lines of communication we need to find that eastern boundary,” Michi said. “If they acknowledge where it is and they acknowledge where it is we can end this.”

Michi said the town and the First Nation have agreed to get together and talk about the matter. Michi called it a “sad day” for the town, but as long as its residents and visitors get to continue to use the beach, he will be OK with it. “Hopefully nothing will change, our store owners will have a successful year and many more will come,” Michi said. “That is all we want.”

Michi said working together will be key in their relationship going forward. “We understand they don’t have the manpower per se that we do and we have offered to help,” said Michi. “We can do paid parking, we can do bylaw and maintain the bathrooms. We just have to sit down and speak with them.”

Ritchie has said it will be “business as usual” at the beach and visitors are welcome as they always were. The band intends to evaluate the lessons learned this summer and put a more long-term plan in place for future years.

Ritchie said Sunday he spoke with Michi and he has a good rapport with him. He said he told the mayor that there will be a path forward and they can create it, but it is important not to “jump the gun.” “Don’t let people push a certain agenda – an agenda of separation,” said Ritchie. “It is not about separation. It is about unity, and if we want change in this country we need to put our words into action.”

Community members dance around the drummers during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Community members dance around the drummers during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

Ritchie said he was happy to see everyone back at Sauble, with a good mix of people from all walks of life. “I have always emphasized that as adults, as leaders, as moms and dads that this is the kind of energy we need to show our children – togetherness, unity, connection,” Ritchie said. “That is the perspective of the Anishinaabe people, that we are all one family, that all our nations and all our things are connected.

“That is how change happens, by showing our kids this is how to do things and role model that behavior. If you want children to listen then we need to listen as adults.”

Waabonookwe, left, and Forest Nawash, 4, drum and sing during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Waabonookwe, left, and Forest Nawash, 4, drum and sing during a Saugeen First Nation community beach party at Sauble Beach on Sunday, May 21, 2023. PHOTO BY ROB GOWAN THE SUN TIMES

Rob Gowan

February 3, 2023

First Nations

Yukon prospecting plan approval is quashed by First Nation court victory

First Peoples Law Report: The Canadian Press: WHITEHORSE — A Yukon court has quashed government approval for a mining exploration project, siding with a First Nation that argued there was a failure to properly consult it about the project on its traditional territory.

The government had approved a plan by Metallic Minerals Corp. to conduct exploration for a gold and silver mine every summer for 10 years in the Beaver River Watershed, moving it to the final stage before regulatory authorization.

But the Supreme Court of Yukon says in a ruling issued Tuesday that the 2021 decision breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun or act in line with its treaty obligations.

Metallic Minerals, which wasn’t represented in the application for judicial review, had plans to build roads, trails, a helipad and a camp for 20 workers to prospect for quartz in the watershed.

The ruling by Yukon Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan returns the proposal to the evaluation stage.

Na-Cho Nyak Dun Chief Simon Mervyn says in a statement that he hopes the ruling inspires other First Nations to “defend their treaties and fight to have a say about what happens on their lands.” He says the government must respect and implement treaty rights, and his nation looks forward to “a collaborative planning process, where we work to protect our rights, lands and waters together.” 

The statement says the watershed is a “pristine, highly significant part of” the First Nation’s territory.

It also expresses appreciation to Metallic Minerals for voluntarily not undertaking exploration while the case was proceeding and not opposing the First Nation’s lawsuit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

December 19, 2022

First Nations

Naawi-Oodena officially becomes largest urban reserve in Canada after repatriation of Winnipeg barracks

We no longer want to be spectators of economic prosperity in Manitoba’: MKO Grand Chief

The master plan for the site includes residential and commercial space, sports and recreation facilities, community spaces and an administration centre for Treaty One Nation. (Former Kapyong Barracks Master Plan)

CBC News: The largest urban reserve in Canada was officially established on Friday, after lands of the former Kapyong Barracks in Winnipeg were repatriated to a joint reserve land base owned by a group of seven First Nations in Treaty One territory.

“The official additions to the reserve of Naawi-Oodena… [are] a giant step towards the realization of the largest urban reserve in Manitoba and Canada,” Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said at a Monday news conference.

Naawi-Oodena, which translates to “centre of the heart and community” in Anishinaabemowin, is a 64-hectare site west of Kenaston Boulevard at Grant Avenue, bordering the Tuxedo and River Heights neighbourhoods.

The site was once home to the former Kapyong Barracks, which were abandoned in 2004 when the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was moved to Canadian Forces Base Shilo, near Brandon, Man.

The seven Treaty One First Nations involved in the project include the Brokenhead, Long Plain, Peguis, Roseau River, Sagkeeng, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake First Nations.

The Treaty One Development Corporation will develop about 45 hectares, or approximately two-thirds of the site. Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation, will develop the rest. “Winnipeg has always been a centre of economic activity for our communities, for thousands and thousands of years, so this isn’t something new for us,” Brokenhead Chief Gordon Bluesky said at the news conference.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a bit of a disruption through our history, which we’re starting to reconcile today.”

Line map of Winnipeg showing former Kapyong Barracks.
The site of the former Kapyong Barracks in Winnipeg was abandoned in 2004. (Former Kapyong Barracks Master Plan)

Shovels are expected to hit the ground at the site next spring, a Monday news release said, and it will take an estimated 15 years for development to be completed in three phases.

The initial phase, which will take place during the first five years of the project, will include 100 residential units and 300,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as $25 million in infrastructure to support those developments.

The second phase, taking place from the sixth to tenth years, will add an additional 600 residential units, 400,000 sq. ft of commercial space and an additional $30 million in infrastructure.

Through the last five years of the project, another 400 residential units will be added to the site, as well as 350,000 square feet of commercial space and $29 million in infrastructure.

Once development of the site is completed, Naawi-Oodena will be a mixed-use zone including residential, commercial, education, cultural, sports/recreational, health and community space-related purposes, according to the release.

Naawi-Oodena is currently the largest First Nation-led urban economic development zone in Manitoba, the release said. “It has the potential to create prosperity — both economically and culturally,” said Merrick.

The group of First Nations first challenged the federal government’s attempt to sell the site in 2008, saying they had a right to the land under outstanding treaty land entitlement claims.

In 2015, a judge ruled that the government failed to adequately consult with the First Nations over the sale.

The land transfer was ruled illegitimate, and the federal government fought the decision until 2015, when then-prime minister Stephen Harper announced that the government would no longer continue to appeal the decision.

Demolition of the barracks site began in summer 2018. In 2019, the land transfer to Treaty 1 First Nations was made official, and a master plan for the site was made public in March 2021.

‘Paradigm shift’

On Monday, a moment of silence was held for cultural and political leaders who were key to the success of Naawi-Oodena and who passed away before the announcement, including elder Charlie Nelson, knowledge keeper Dave Courchene Jr. and Winnipeg MP Jim Carr.

“We can’t do this by ourselves. We have to do this together. We’re stronger when we’re together,” Swan Lake Chief Jason Daniels said at the conference.

Daniels acknowledged that there has been “a lot of hurt,” for both First Nation communities and for Winnipeg recently, speculating that a percentage of the reserve’s revenue may go toward helping homeless people. “This is such a good opportunity for not only the Treaty One nations, but for the citizens of Winnipeg,” he said.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said the project sets the tone for economic prosperity in Manitoba First Nations. “There’s a paradigm shift that’s taking place,” he said at the news conference.

“We no longer want to be spectators of economic prosperity in Manitoba. We want to be participants and it’s happening now.”

With files from Bartley Kives

October 25, 2022

2021 Indigenous Census Data

Blueberry River FN launches new resource business in B.C’s north

Armed with $65 million awarded following court victory on land claim, small First Nations has formed Blueberry River Resources

Blueberry First Nations’ successful land claim overlaps part of the Montney gas basin near Dawson Creek, B.C. | Canada’s ARC Resources Ltd.

NationTalk: One year after winning a landmark legal case that gave it $65 million and control over 38,000 square kilometres (14,670 square miles) overlapping much of B.C.’s nascent natural gas fields and infrastructure, a small First Nation in northern B.C. is getting down to business.

The Blueberry River First Nations (BRFN) has established a new enterprise, Blueberry River Resources. The idea is to create economic growth for the community, including outside of its boundaries.

“BRFN was rewarded $35 million dollars for land restoration from the Cumulative Damages Claim,” said a statement from its Chief and council. “We believe the best way to invest this money is through creating a restoration business outside of the nation.”

On October 19, it announced the appointment of outgoing Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman as the company’s CEO. “Lori is the ideal candidate to help launch Blueberry River Resources into a successful business for our lands, water, wildlife, and people,” said the statement.

As part of the plan, the First Nation has already purchased a building in the city. “We expect this venture to grow quickly and look forward to creating more job opportunities for BRFN members within our nation as well as in the City of Fort St. John.”

BRFN Chief Judy Desjarlais, former president of Top Notch Oilfield Contracting Ltd., called Ackerman a community champion.

“She brings a wealth of expertise in the areas of business management, resource development, community infrastructure, and stakeholder engagement.”

 “I am honoured to have this opportunity,” said Ackerman.

The 17-year political veteran begins her new role November 1, just one day after chairing her last council meeting as mayor.

In a landmark ruling June 29, 2021, the BC Supreme Court found that the province had breached its treaty obligations by allowing forestry, natural gas extraction and other development in the area covered by a treaty without the approval of Blueberry River First Nations.

The province was given six months to work out an arrangement with BRFN to improve provincial land management and permitting processes to recognize and respect BRFN’s treaty rights.

The undisputed ruling came into force on January 1, 2022.

In an agreement signed in October 2021, which allowed 195 resource projects to proceed in its territory, the 200-member BRFN was awarded $65 million by the province of B.C., including $35 million for land restoration and “cultural areas.”

October 3, 2022


Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and Canada take a step toward reconciliation with partial settlement of historic claim dating from 1837

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada: Today, Chief R. Donald Maracle with the Council of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations, announced the conclusion of a partial settlement agreement regarding the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim.

The specific claim arises from the unlawful 1837 alienation of 923.4 acres of unsurrendered land, known as the Culbertson Tract, which breached the Simcoe Deed, which the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte recognize as a treaty. Canada and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have reached a full and final settlement of a 299.43-acre portion of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim. Through an arrangement with the fee simple owner on a willing buyer/willing seller basis, this land will be confirmed as reserve land.

Today’s partial settlement agreement is without prejudice to the balance of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim. Canada and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte look forward to continuing those negotiations.

Achieved through dialogue and cooperation, this historic settlement agreement will help address the government’s past. The Government of Canada is committed to working with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation.

Honouring Canada’s legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships are key to righting historical wrongs and to advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.


“This is a significant day for our community and in our history. Our original Mohawk Tract has been greatly reduced by surrenders and other alienations, many of which are suspicious and, in this case, simply illegal. With the signing of the Culbertson Tract Partial Settlement Agreement, we have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse this trend and to reaffirm administration and control of our land illegally taken from us. We look forward to continuing the work on having the remaining 623.4 acres of the Culbertson Tract restored to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.”

R. Donald Maracle
Chief, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

“This historic settlement with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte shows what we can achieve when we work together to reach shared solutions guided by the values of respect and partnership. We acknowledge Canada’s failure to protect your community’s right to your land, and we reaffirm our commitment to addressing this wrong. This settlement is an important step forward to creating new opportunities for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to advance their ongoing work to improve community well-being.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • In 1793, the Mohawk Tract was granted to the ancestors of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte by the Simcoe Deed, which the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte assert to be a treaty. In recompense for the losses sustained by the Mohawks as a result of their ongoing loyalty to the British Crown during the American War of Independence. A particular procedure was specified for surrenders and sales of any of that tract.
  • Since 1793 the original Mohawk Tract has been reduced to less than one-third of its original size.
  • In 1995, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte submitted a specific claim alleging that the Crown, not having obtained a surrender for the Culbertson Tract, breached its fiduciary and treaty duties to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte by illegally transferring the Culbertson Tract in 1837 (the “Culbertson Tract Specific Claim”).
  • In November 2003, Canada accepted the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim for negotiation under its Specific Claims Policy, though negotiations were paused in 2007 due to incompatible positions.
  • In 2017, the parties resumed negotiations to settle a portion of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim consisting of 299.43 acres without prejudice to negotiating a settlement for the balance of the Culbertson Tract Specific Claim.
  • The membership approved the partial settlement agreement in a ratification vote certified on November 4, 2021, and no appeals on the ratification vote were received.

August 31, 2022

First Nations

Indigenous-led Land Trusts: An Exercise of Self-Determination

NationTalk: In recent years, more Indigenous individuals and groups are examining and amending the land trust model to advance their community interests. Land trusts may be developed to support self-determination and the resurgence of Indigenous legal traditions, relationships, and priorities, including the land back movement.

Stay tuned for a Virtual Campfire Series webinar that will explore the development and maintenance of Indigenous-led land trusts from a variety of regions and perspectives!

Save the date:

Thursday, September 22 from 10am -12pm PT/ 12-2 pm MT / 1-3 pm ET / 2-4 pm AT

This session will feature a conversation with leaders of indigenous-led land trusts.

Are you interested in learning more about land trusts and how they can support visions for Indigenous conservation leadership? See our FAQ below:

What is a land trust?

A land trust is an organization with nonprofit or charitable status, specifically dedicated to public purposes. Public purposes include nurturance and conservation of ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity.

Developing a land trust is a multi-step process. Individuals and communities involved establish their own board of directors (governance circle), human resources (staff and volunteers) and other organizational elements.

Land trusts create accountability structures, standards and practices to run an effective organization.

The legal status of a land trust enables the organization to hold land and carry out its mission through donations and purchases of land, raising funds, and collaboration with similar conservation organizations and governments.

Who is involved in land trusts?

Land trusts are developed and maintained by groups and organizations which have an interest in specific ecosystems, cultural heritage, and culturally significant areas. Historically, land trusts originate in European legal systems of private property ownership and were not designed to accommodate Indigenous knowledge systems or legal orders.

However, indigenous-led land trusts can be an instrument to exercise self determination. Those involved develop collective leadership and governance systems to mirror the needs of their communities and lands.

Why should Indigenous governments and communities consider this model?

The land trust model is beneficial to communities who are looking to protect and steward land. Land trust maintenance and governance is also a way to seed and regenerate connections within communities.

For some, establishing a land trust is seen as a temporary workaround. There are legal barriers to exercising  jurisdiction, and conflicting territorial claims resulting from histories of colonialism in a lot of areas. The development of land trusts forms a way for Indigenous Peoples to assert their responsibilities and engage in land-based practices, reclaim areas in their homelands, and build connectivity amongst themselves and with their relatives.

How does one initiate a land trust?

Land trusts begin through a legal process designed to establish the nonprofit and charity organization. That organization then assumes responsibility for activities and governance of the land trust.

Some land trusts operate according to established standards such as those set by the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices (see link below).

 Here are a few resources for further reading:

August 24, 2022

First Nations

Land Claim Settled for Mitaanjigamiing First Nation in Treaty 3

First Peoples Law Report

NetNewsLedger: Mitaanjigamiing First Nation — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and the Government of Ontario have announced a settlement of a long-standing land claim. This settlement will provide Mitaanjigamiing First Nation with $84.45 million in compensation, with Canada paying $45.05 million and Ontario paying $39.4 million.

Chief Janice Henderson of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, announced the successful tripartite settlement agreement between Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario, regarding the Mitaanjigamiing First Nation Treaty 3 Flooding Claim.

The claim was filed in response to the unauthorized and uncompensated flooding of reserve land due to the building of a dam across the Rainy River at Fort Frances-International Falls in the early 1900s. The dam has continued to cause ongoing flooding on Mitaanjigamiing First Nation’s reserve lands. Filed in 1994, this claim was accepted for negotiation by Ontario in 2003 and by Canada in April 2009.

Quick Facts

Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, located approximately 70 km north of the Town of Fort Frances, has a population of 140, with 100 members living on reserve.

Canada has a longstanding policy and process in place to resolve specific claims by negotiating settlements with First Nations. Working in partnership with First Nations, Canada has resolved over 592 specific claims since 1973.

Since January 1, 2016, Canada has settled more than 183 specific claims with First Nations, totalling $8.9 billion in compensation.

In the fiscal year 2021-22, 56 claims were filed with the Minister, 83 claims were “assessed” (77 claims were accepted for negotiation while 6 claims were not accepted for negotiations), 26 claims were resolved (23 claims settled through negotiations and 3 claims compensation awarded at the Specific Claims Tribunal).

As of March 31, 2022, 51 land claims and other agreements have been reached in Ontario. 

“After many years of negotiations, I am very pleased to state that a former long outstanding Chief, the late Allan Henderson Sr.’s vision was to file these claims for our future generations. This Flood Claim, along with the settlement of our treaty land entitlement claim in 2018 and the Loss of Use Claim in 1990 will provide prosperity for our children and youth today and for our future generations. Acknowledgements also need to be made to Canada and Ontario who worked with our Negotiating Team and past Councils in the successful resolution of this claim,” said Chief Janice Henderson, Mitaanjigamiing First Nation.

Marcus Powlowski Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River states, “I am pleased to see the Government of Canada and Mitaanjigamiing First Nation come together and finalize this land claim settlement. This is an important step that will help strengthen Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in Northwestern Ontario. I look forward to attending the Flood Claim Settlement Ceremony at the end of August.”

Jaime Battiste, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations says, “The successful resolution of this settlement marks an important step for Canada’s relationship with Mitaanjigamiing First Nation. Today, we acknowledge Canada’s failure to protect the community’s lands and reiterate our commitment to rebuilding the broken trust. Together, we will continue to address these historical wrongs and support Mitaanjigamiing First Nation as it builds toward a brighter future for their community.”

“This settlement with Mitaanjigamiing First Nation is the result of respectful and meaningful negotiation. It demonstrates Ontario’s commitment to rectifying historical wrongs and moving forward together on the path of reconciliation,” concluded Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

June 2, 2022

Land Claims

Siksika First Nation sign a historic $1.3B land claim settlement to right a 100 year-old wrong

CTV News: SIKSIKA, ALTA –  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the chief of the Siksika First Nation have signed a historic land claim settlement, which the federal government says is one of the largest agreements of its kind in Canada.

Trudeau and Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, participated in a signing ceremony Thursday with Chief Ouray Crowfoot, council and community members. “We’re gathered today to right a wrong from the past,” Trudeau said during the ceremony. “We’re gathered to give ourselves a chance to start rebuilding trust between us, nation to nation.”

The federal government said the settlement dates back more than a century when Canada broke its Blackfoot Treaty promise and took almost half of Siksika Nation’s reserve land, including some of its agricultural lands, to sell to people who settled in the area.

The agreement provides $1.3 billion in compensation to Siksika Nation to resolve outstanding land claims, which include about 46,500 hectares of Siksika’s Reserve and certain mineral rights taken by Canada.

Trudeau said it’s important to move forward as partners with Indigenous people. “This settlement will enable you to invest in your priorities like infrastructure, education and supports for Elders and youth,” he told those gathered. “It will create new economic, social and cultural opportunities.”

Crowfoot said the settlement doesn’t make up for past wrongs, but it will make a difference in people’s lives. “Canada needs to stop using the word reconciliation. You will never reconcile, you will never make it whole,” he said.

“This land claim — $1.3 billion, that’s a lot of money — it will never make it whole of what it was before. But we’ve got to move forward. What the $1.3 (billion) can do is provide opportunities, opportunities we didn’t have before. “I do see the tide turning for Siksika. I see us becoming a thriving nation.”

Siksika’s website says each member of the First Nation is to receive $20,000 in July as part of the settlement. Siksika Nation includes approximately 8,000 members.

Elder nation members told CTV news they want the true history of their people to be shared. “These things happened to my people and it’s my wish to go out there and tell our story and people listen,” said Angeline Ayoungman.

Young nation members say they are optimistic that this progress will benefit future generations. “It’s a big thing for me because I can tell my daughter about this historic moment that happened here,” said Tasheena Black Kettle. “You know it can be very beneficial for a lot of people you know it can mean getting a new vehicle, being able to go to college, getting a better experience, getting a better chance at life,” said Desmond Pelly.

He later added, “It’s a light at the end of a dark tunnel for a lot of people that are struggling with poverty.”

May 24, 2022

Beaverhouse First Nation finally recognized by Canada after 116 years

NationTalk: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Derek Fox, on behalf of the NAN Executive Council, congratulates Beaverhouse First Nation for reaching a historic Treaty Reserve Claim with their federal Treaty partner which formally recognizes the community as a distinct First Nation:

“We are pleased to join with the leadership and members of Beaverhouse First Nation to celebrate this historic Treaty Claim that finally recognizes the community and confirms their rightful authority in their traditional territory.

As this community was not a signatory to Treaty No. 9, they have not been able to assert jurisdiction over their traditional territory or fully benefit from resource development on their land. The acceptance of their Claim is a huge accomplishment and paves the way to begin negotiations with the federal government to resolve historic grievances.

Recognition of band status will provide the community and its citizens the same rights as all First Nations across the country and will bring more supports and services to their members.

Congratulations to Chief Wabie, Council, and past leaders who have worked so hard to reach this milestone. This is a historic achievement that all citizens can be proud of and will set the foundation to right many historic wrongs. We are pleased that the Crown has accepted this Claim and look forward to the new opportunities it will create for this community.”’

Beaverhouse First Nation submitted its Claim to Canada and Ontario in 2018. The Claim asserted that the community retains Aboriginal rights and title to its traditional lands, and that Canada and Ontario have unjustifiably interfered with its rights and title through the issuance of Crown patents, tenures, leases, and other forms of alienation to third parties, without recognizing Beaverhouse as an Indian band.

An acceptance letter was received on April 19, 2022, recognizing Beaverhouse as First Nation collectivity, having Section 35 rights under the Canadian Constitution. This will allow the community to achieve the band status recognition denied for the last 116 years.

April 25, 2022

Williams Lake First Nation reaches tentative $135M settlement, 160 years after being forced off its land

CBC: A First Nation in British Columbia has reached a proposed $135-million settlement with the federal government, 160 years after settlers began taking over its village lands.

Chief Willie Sellars of the Williams Lake First Nation said a legal battle that began nearly three decades ago ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada in 2018 before mediation began last year. “Words cannot really express the amount of joy and happiness that is beaming through our council and our community,” Sellars said Monday after announcing the agreement-in-principle, which still must be ratified.

Village lands within what is now the city of Williams Lake were occupied by settlers contrary to the colonial government’s commitment to create a reserve, so many of their ancestors were displaced, Sellars said.

Members aged 18 and over will have a chance to ratify the settlement in a referendum on June 29, and Sellars said three in-person and online information sessions will be held before that — on May 12, 26 and June 9. The First Nation said about 450 people will be eligible to vote, about half of its registered members, and ballots can be cast by mail or in person.

The $135-million deal is close to the maximum $150 million that could have been awarded, and Sellars urged all members of the First Nation to support it for the sake of future generations and the legacy of those who lost their lands.

“One of the discouraging things about how long this battle has lasted is that a lot of the elders that have testified throughout this whole process have passed on. They’re never going to see any benefit from this victory, and that was something that we kept in mind as we were negotiating,” Sellars said.

The First Nation’s pursuit of justice began in 1994 when it submitted a claim with Canada’s Specific Claims Policy, but the federal government refused to accept it. The First Nation then advanced the claim through a process called the Indian Claims Commission, and then the Specific Claims Tribunal. In 2014, the tribunal ruled Canada breached its obligations to the First Nation by allowing it to be unlawfully evicted from its traditional lands.

However, Canada appealed the decision as the legal dispute continued for another four years before the country’s highest court affirmed the tribunal’s ruling in 2018, sparking three years of negotiations toward a settlement for damages.

Wycotte said he never imagined when he read letters from Chief William about the plight of his people that he’d see the day the federal government would offer a $135-million settlement. “It’s been a hard journey,” he said. “When the Supreme Court of Canada made its decision, I knew it was a done deal. Canada can deny all it wants, but it has nowhere else to go.”

April 22, 2022

Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi sign MOU Establishing a Permanent Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec

NationTalk: In an on-going effort to continue in the path of our past leaders in building and maintaining relationships with one another, the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, the Inuit of Nunavik, and the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Establishing a Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec.

As parties to James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975 and the Northeastern Québec Agreement (NEQA) of 1978, our collective challenges, although made distinct by our respective territories, politics, language, and customs, do hold similarities, especially when it comes to finding solutions in a reality that can only be truly understood by the inhabitants of Eeyou Istchee, Nunavik, and Nuchimiyuschiiy. It is by sharing our experiences and victories with one another that we can help one another succeed.

“Although we have always had connections with our neighbors to the north and to the east, having a permanent forum where common issues are exchanged on can only be positive for the well-being of our communities. Together, we can ensure the best tools are in place for the future and that representation of our nations in the region, province, and nationally is fair and inclusive.” – Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty, Cree Nation Government

This newly established permanent forum will promote cooperation and coordination on matters to advance Indigenous self-determination and aboriginal and treaty rights. It is important to understand that this forum will not substitute existing committees or forums provided for in the JBNQA, NEQA or established between other governing bodies.

“I am very proud of what Inuit have accomplished over the years on the Nunavik Territory. With our Indigenous Forum on Northern Quebec and our collective efforts with the Crees and the Naskapis our voice will even be louder and stronger.” – President Pita Aatami, Makivik Corporation

“Today marks an important milestone in our deep nation-to-nation collaboration, cooperation, and friendship. On our long journey towards self-determination, the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy are proud to count on our long-time neighbors, the Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. It is only by working together that we will achieve our shared objective to exercise full autonomy on our traditional territories and improve the well-being of our communities.” – Chief Theresa Chemaganish, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Discussions of the forum will be guided priorities that are deemed by each nation to be significant and relevant for the well-being of their communities and people and for the sustainability of their traditional territories. Our worlds are rapidly changing and challenging us to evolve quickly. We are resilient peoples who have adapted through generations of challenges and understand that it is when we are together that we can advance with high hopes and aspirations for our respective future generations.

January 27, 2022

BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council

FNEMC – “The Indigenous Sovereignty: Implementing Consent for Mining on Indigenous Lands” is a new report prepared by the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC) setting out 25 recommendations which, if implemented, would compel mining companies and prospectors to secure the approval of First Nation governments in order to obtain consent-based access to First Nations’ lands. They would further be required to agree and abide by conditions set by those First Nations governments.

The report is, in part, a response to the Province’s lack of progress on implementing the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the “Declaration Act”) since its enactment in 2019. The Declaration Act requires the Province, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to align all provincial laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration”). Indigenous people’s rights of decision-making authorities about their lands, includes Free, Prior and Informed Consent for activity on their lands; these are key human rights standards in the UN Declaration, and the Declaration Act creates mechanisms for the Province (and Canada) to uphold.

However, to date, the Province has not reformed any of its mining laws to be consistent with the Declaration Act, and it continues “business as usual”. First Nations continue to rely on costly legal processes to protect their rights and address non-sanctioned mining operations in their territories, contrary to the Declaration Act and the Province’s commitments to First Nations. In the latest case filed in the BC Supreme Court in October 2021, the Gitxaala Nation, whose territory is in northern BC, challenges the Province’s “free entry” mineral claim staking regime. The Nation is challenging the registration and granting of multiple mineral claims by the Province between 2018 and 2020 on Banks Island in Gitxaala territory without the Nation’s consent, consultation, or even notification.

All 25 recommendations are consistent with the legal certainty that will exist once mining laws are aligned with the Declaration Act, offering near-term practical options for First Nations to exercise sovereignty and consent in relation to mining activities. In the absence of provincial government action, the Report recommends that First Nations move ahead with the development of their own mining regimes based on their Indigenous laws and legal orders and exercise of their right of consent for all existing and future mining operations.

December 20, 2021

Siksika Nation

Siksika Nation – Siksika Nation members vote in favour of the Siksika Nation Global Settlement Agreement that will include a one-time payment of 1.3 Billion dollars and will discontinue all filed court actions relating to the settlement. Approximatley 70% of eligible voters turned out to the polls on December 16th and 17th, 2021 in Siksika and Calgary as well as a number of mail-in ballots from Nation members who could not vote in-person. Of those who responded to the referendum question, approximately 77% voted yes.

The decision to accept the settlement will also include the option to apply for up 115,000 acres of land purchased by the Nation that can be added to the reserve anywhere in Alberta.

“This settlement is not reconciliation. We will never be restored to the same as before these breaches took place. We lost almost half of our landbase and access to ceremonial sites and our connection to the land. One thing the settlement can provide is opportunities. Financial opportunities that can open many doors for our people and be a move towards financial sovereignty. Opportunities that can help remove barriers, build capacity and provide services to help better the standard of life for all our People.” SUMMARY OF CLAIMS:

The Global Settlement Agreement includes the following claims;

  • 1910 Surrender and 1960 Petition of Right Claims: Unlawful surrender of 115,000 acres of reserve land and breach of Canada’s fiduciary duties related to the reserve lands.
  • CPR: Breaches of duty in taking reserve land for use by third parties in connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • CLUNY: Flooding of and release of sewage onto the reserve without Siksika’s permission.
  • BRID AND CREOSOTE: Unlawful taking of approximately 500 acres of the reserve for the Bow River Irrigation Project. Related creosote contamination claims.


The proposed settlement is a global settlement that will cover all the claims identified above.

  • A one-time payment of 1,300, 000, 000 (one billion and three hundred million dollars) will be made to the Nation in 2022.
  • In exchange for the compensation, Siksika will discontinue all filed court actions related to the claims and release Canada from all liability related to the claims.
  • The settlement ratification will include a new surrender of the lands subject to the 1910 surrender to provide certainty.
  • Siksika is entitled to apply for up to 115,000 acres of land purchased by Siksika to be added to reserve.
  • The use of the settlement funds is not addressed in the proposed settlement agreement with Canada and will be determined solely by Siksika Nation.

December 17, 2021

Dehcho First Nations

CBC – Dehcho First Nations says it’s tired of waiting for the federal and territorial governments to recognize the Dehcho people’s authority over their land and resources — so it’s creating its own rules laying out how they can be used. Over the coming months, Dehcho First Nations (DFN) says it will draft a land code to govern all aspects of land and resource management in its territory.

DFN is a tribal council consisting of eight Dene First Nation communities and two Métis communities. Their territory covers approximately 250,000 square kilometres across the Northwest Territories and extends into Yukon and British Columbia.

Once the code is implemented, “DFN will request that Canada and the [government of the Northwest Territories] acknowledge their jurisdiction over the lands and resources of their Territory and acknowledge that the Dehcho Land Code is paramount over any federal or territorial legislation,” read a Dec. 6 news release from DFN.

Negotiating a land claim agreement with the federal and territorial governments began in 1999 and has stalled over the decades.

“In the absence of an agreement recognizing the authority of the Dehcho First Nations over their lands, the [government of the Northwest Territories] has claimed this authority and has acted as if it has jurisdiction to manage Dehcho lands and resources, against the strenuous objections of the DFN. This has led to further confusion and tension in the region,” read the release.

December 10, 2021

Eeyou Istchee Cree

Québec City – Tabled Bill 16. Among other things, it will afford the community of Oujé-Bougoumou the same official recognition in the corpus of legislation as the eight other Cree communities. The bill amends legislative provisions in order to implement supplementary conventions No. 22 and No. 27 to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

To this end, the bill amends various statutes so that the Cree of Oujé-Bougoumou are expressly recognized therein as a Cree community benefiting from the same rights as the other Cree communities. Other amendments concern the Act respecting the Cree Hunters and Trappers Income Security Board and will reflect the changes made to the Income Security Program for Cree Hunters and Trappers stipulated in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, which is now the Cree Hunters Economic Security Program.

November 17, 2021

The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs

Anishinabek Nation – The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs proclaimed June 6 the Anishinabek Nation holiday, Anishinabek Giizhigad, in honour of the historic proclamation of the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin (constitution).

“On June 6, 2012, the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was brought into ceremony by the Anishinabek Nation Elders. On that day, we asserted that we are sovereign with Inherent and Treaty Rights and responsibilities, and guided by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Today, we recognize June 6 as a day of great importance for the Anishinabek Nation communities to celebrate,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe.
The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was ratified by the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council by Grand Council Resolution and confirmed by a Pipe Ceremony in Sheguiandah First Nation on June 6, 2012. The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin is a commitment to establish a traditional government that will develop laws and policies for the protection and betterment of Anishinabek.

The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin was developed in consultation with Anishinabek First Nations leaders and citizens over the course of 13 years. Throughout this period, the consultations process was done according to proper protocols, rules, order, and ceremonies, including Dodemaag (Clan) teachings by former Anishinabek Nation Head Getzit Nmishomis Gordon Waindubence (Shiikenh).

In 2011, the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin Preamble, Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe (One Anishinaabe Family), was approved by Chiefs-in-Assembly. The Preamble contains instructions on how to live according to the Laws the Creator has given to the Anishinaabe. Nmishomis Gordon Waindubence sat with an Elders Council to create the Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe, which provides the context and the spirit and intent in which the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin is understood.

“We encourage all Anishinabek Nation citizens in our 39 First Nations to embrace and honour this day and celebrate it in their own way,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “We are a strong, beautiful, diverse people. We encourage our non-Indigenous counterparts to take the time to learn about our new holiday, culture, traditions and history, and join in celebrating with us.”

October 8, 2021

Blueberry First Nation

Toronto Star – The BC Government has signed an agreement with Blueberry First Nation to provide $65 million in funding to support land restoration and cultural programs, four months after a court ruled the province beached the nation’s rights. The initial agreements will provide $35M to undertake land restoration activities and create jobs for band members and business opportunities for companies in the region. The other $30 million will go toward helping the First Nation protect its cultural way of life and expanding its land management resources as well as restoring the health of wildlife through management programs.

October 1, 2021

Blueberry First Nation

The ruling requires a rebalancing of Treaty 8 rights, the economy and the environment. We recognize that this court decision has significant social and economic implications in the region, and that it has caused uncertainty for communities and industry.

“Our future focus is on creating long-term solutions for collaborative decision-making that protect treaty rights and manage the cumulative impacts of industrial development. We are committed to creating a balanced path in the territory, one that provides environmental sustainability that respects and protects Treaty 8 rights and Indigenous culture along with stable economic activity and employment.

“We are committed to providing regular updates to and seeking input from Blueberry River First Nations members, industry, local governments and residents of the northeast as our discussions proceed. We are also reaching out to other Treaty 8 First Nations,

August 12, 2021

Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs

The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs (Nation/Huwilp) and the governments of British Columbia and Canada have signed the Gitanyow Governance Accord.

The accord provides a path forward in the B.C. Treaty process toward full self-government, led by a restored Gitanyow hereditary governance system.

The tripartite accord commits Gitanyow, the Province and Canada to a series of steps needed to transition away from the federal Indian Act by revitalizing and achieving legal recognition of Gitanyow hereditary governance system of the Huwilp/Houses within five years. It is a process of rebuilding Gitanyow hereditary governance with modern-day governance tools and provides an important example of the benefits of implementing rights and title through negotiation, rather than relying on the courts.

By signing the accord, Gitanyow, the Province and Canada have agreed on key milestones to be reached within five years, including:

  • revitalizing the Gitanyow Constitution, governance structures and developing a citizenship code;
  • negotiating an inherent governance agreement that sets out steps to Gitanyow self-government; and
  • ratifying and implementing the Gitanyow Inherent Governance Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • Gitanyow is represented by eight hereditary chiefs that each lead a Wilp (house group) and come together as the Huwilp on matters of common interest.
  • The Gitanyow Nation’s territory covers approximately 1.7 million hectares of northwestern British Columbia.
  • Gitanyow is in stage 4 of the B.C. Treaty process.
  • Canada and the Province endorsed and committed to fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2019.
  • A tripartite governance working group will be established within 45 days of the signing of the accord, with Gitanyow, the Province and Canada appointing at least one representative.

August 11, 2021

Peepeekisis Cree Nation

CTV News – After more than 30 years in federal courts, the Government of Canada and the Peepeekisis Cree Nation gathered together in virtual ceremony to celebrate the signing of an historic land claim settlement. The settlement agreement includes $150 million, offers the ability for Peepeekisis to acquire additional land and manage settlement funds, which will be put in a community trust.

Chief Francis Dieter of Peepeekisis Cree Nation said the settlement funds will go toward programs that will help elders and youth in the community, and will help tackle social issues that exist on reserve.

August 11, 2021

Waywayseecappo First Nation

Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – announced that the First Nation and Canada have concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve a longstanding dispute and move forward together on the path of reconciliation.

The negotiated agreement settles Waywayseecappo First Nation’s 1881 Surrender Specific Claim. The claim relates to the taking and subsequent sale of 21,013 acres of the First Nation’s reserve land in 1881. The basis of the claim was that Canada wrongfully took these lands from the First Nation without their consent and without proper compensation.

The settlement provided approximately $287.5 million in financial compensation to the First Nation. The settlement honours an outstanding obligation, but also provides the First Nation with capital to invest in new opportunities for community and economic development that can benefit its members and the local economy.
In marking this joint achievement today, Waywayseecappo and Canada want to acknowledge former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci who mediated the negotiations and played an instrumental role in assisting the parties in reaching this negotiated settlement.

Chief Murray Clearsky and Minister Bennett also announced today that Canada and Waywayseecappo have successfully completed the addition to reserve process adding 2.250 hectares (5.56 acres) of surface land to the Waywayseecappo Highway 10 Indian Reserve.

The lands, located approximately one kilometre north of the City of Brandon, have successfully been developed into a gas bar, a convenience store and an office building for the West Region Child and Family Services Centre.
By adding lands to reserve, the Government of Canada helps advance reconciliation, fulfill legal obligations, improve treaty relationships, and foster economic opportunities.

First Nation members approved the settlement in a community vote, with 92 percent of those who voted voting in favour. The settlement was signed by the First Nation on July 19, 2019 and by Canada on June 30, 2020. Under the settlement, the First Nation can buy up to 21,013 acres of land on the open market and apply to have it added to their reserve

August 5, 2021

Peepeekisis Cree Nation

CTV News – The Peepeekisis Cree Nation is home to a unique and rarely acknowledged part of Canada’s residential school history: File Hills Colony. Nearly 80 years later, community members are still feeling the effects of the so-called social experiment. The colony was located on Peepeekisis, located about 100 kilometres east of Regina, from its inception in 1898 until it concluded in the 1940s.
“Participants in the File Hills Colony were graduates of Indian residential schools and industrial schools,”

Cheyanne Desnomie an Indigenous research specialist who is from Peepeekisis Cree Nation,
said. “They were handpicked by [William Morris Graham the local Indian Agent], along with local clergymen and principals of residential schools. Once chosen, the colony members were forced to work on a community farm which was located on what is now called Peepeekisis Cree Nation. They were not permitted to return to their home communities where they had originally lived before attending residential school, where most of their families were still living…. At the time the colony started in 1898, there were already families living on the land. They were pushed to the side to make room for the colony placements.

That caused a divide between members in the community and it continued for decades. Desnomie said it’s sometimes still there today.

July 29, 2021

Blueberry First Nation

CTV News – British Columbia has decided not to appeal a provincial Supreme Court ruling that found the government breached the Treaty 8 agreement signed with the Blueberry River First Nations more than 120 years ago by allowing development without the community’s approval. Attorney General David Eby says the court was clear the province must improve its management of the cumulative impacts of industrial development in the territory in B.C.’s northeast.

July 28, 2021

Blueberry First Nation

Financial Post – A British Columbia Supreme Court decision requiring the provincial government to consider the “cumulative effects” of development could mandate First Nations’ consent for any new project on historic treaty lands in Canada. Justice Emily Burke’s 511-page decision in Yahey v. B.C., released on June 29, forbids B.C. from authorizing further development in Blueberry First Nation territory unless an agreement for a satisfactory regulatory approval regime can be reached within six months.

“The upshot is that B.C.’s legal authority to authorize new developments, like roads and wind farms, must take into account cumulative effects management that ensure that the combined impact of new developments don’t produce an infringement on treaty rights,” Duncanson said. “It’s hard to imagine, however, what that would look like without full consent from Blueberry and all the other First Nations whose treaty rights overlap.”
Its traditional territory comprises an expanse of 38,000 square kilometres including most of the Montney Formation, one of the country’s most active natural gas development targets, municipalities such as Fort St. John and Dawson Creek, forestry operations, two hydroelectric dams, and the controversial under-construction Site C dam on the Peace River…84 per cent of Blueberry territory is within 500 metres, and 73 per cent within 250 metres, of an industrial disturbance. In 2016, the David Suzuki Foundation and Ecotrust Canada concluded that more than 110,000 kilometres of pipelines, roads, transmission lines and seismic lines populated Blueberry territory.

The issue facing the court was whether BRFN’s rights under Treaty 8, signed in 1900, had been infringed by the cumulative impacts of industrial development, including forestry, oil and gas, renewable energy and agriculture, during the past 120 years. Justice Burke concluded that the province had breached the agreement because it allowed development without the community’s approval, thereby violating its promise to maintain BRFN’s treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap within its traditional territory.

The circumstances of the BRFN decision, however, differ from earlier treaty rights jurisprudence, where allegations of infringement focused on a single piece of legislation, regulatory regime or project. Burke’s judgment noted that while no individual project had a devastating effect on the community, the cumulative effect produced a limitation of treaty rights. For this reason, among others, appeal courts that deal with the issue may find that her decision did not intrude on SCC pronouncements.

April 19, 2021

Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation

The five-year Rights and Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries was agreed to by LMG on March 24, 2021 and will be approved and signed by Canada in the coming weeks. In the Agreement, Canada recognizes the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation’s fisheries governance and fishing rights. The Agreement also recognizes the mechanisms, including our Mi’gmaq Laws, by which the LMG governs and manages its fisheries.
For the first time, Canada has formally recognized our sacred, inherent responsibility for the stewardship of the land, waters, and living things of Gespe’gewa’gi. As the basis for this Agreement, Canada has also accepted that the recognition of our inherent jurisdiction, legal orders, and laws is the starting point for discussions between the federal government and the LMG.

“This Agreement will allow us to plan and implement our seasons with some certainty that DFO will not unjustifiably infringe on Mi’gmaq fisheries governance and our fishing rights. We will also gain increased access to fisheries resources whether for food, social, ceremonial, or commercial purposes, funds for capacity building on fisheries governance, obtain fisheries access, which could include licenses and/or quota as well as vessels and gear,” said Dr. Fred Metallic, Natural Resources Director, member of fisheries negotiation team on behalf of LMG.

LMG remains committed to making certain that our rights, responsibilities, and full authority over our fisheries are upheld. If required, there is nothing in this Agreement that prohibits the LMG from initiating or supporting legal proceedings against Canada concerning any alleged breach of this Agreement by Canada, including action by Canada that fails to fulfill the duty to consult and accommodate or unjustifiably infringes our Aboriginal or Treaty Rights.

December 17, 2020

Homalco First Nation, Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nation

The Tyee – Acting on the wishes of seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan has not renewed fish farm licenses in the Discovery Islands but ordered the phase out of all 19 Atlantic salmon feedlots owned by Norwegian-based companies. That means juvenile salmon will not have run through a gauntlet of fish farms and their parasites along one of the province’s largest wild salmon migration routes.
All the farms are to be emptied of Atlantic salmon by June 30, 2021.

“This is the culmination of a long fight,” said Alex Morton, an independent biologist and researcher who first identified the threat posed by sea lice infestations on farms to wild fish 20 years ago. “For the first time since 1991, when sockeye runs started to decline, Okisollo Channel will be free of fish farms. They have blocked a critical artery for the movement of wild fish for far too long.”

Bob Chamberlain, the chief of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance who negotiated on behalf of three of the seven First Nations with DFO, called the minister’s decision to close the farms a welcome one. “It is a step in the right direction toward protecting wild salmon but there are many more steps to be taken.” Those steps include habitat restoration and the return of salmon governance to First Nations.

Chamberlain says 102 First Nations up and down B.C.’s coast want to see fish farms out of the ocean to help stop the downward spiral of extinction of wild Pacific salmon.

December 17, 2020

Peepeekisis Cree Nation

Yorkton This Week – Members of the Peepeekisis Cree Nation – in Treaty 4 territory – have voted 97 per cent to approve and receive a $150-million land settlement from the federal government, the roots of which date back to the late 1800s. Former Peepeekisis Chief Enock Poitras first filed legal papers for the land claim in 1986; federal courts twice denied it, saying the band’s first two attempts were outside the statute of limitations.
The community’s leaders re-submitted the case a third time, the current successful one, in June 2017. Six months later they were negotiating with the feds.

The claim stems from the work of Indian agent William Graham in 1898. He led a federally-imposed farm colony program in the area, forcing non-Peepeekisis members to marry and then settle on the community’s reserve land east of Balcarres in Saskatchewan.

After paying legal fees, the band will put the remaining $70 million in a trust fund, created with help from consulting firm Deloitte.

There’s also now a sub-committee of five Peepeekisis members tasked with deciding “how to spend interest off the trust,” Dieter said; none of them are in governance positions.
Dieter said the first task on tap is building a new community hub, which is to house the band office, a daycare, a kitchen and a gas station. Construction is to start at the end of January.

November 30, 2020

The Anishinabek Grand Council

Anishinabek News – The Anishinabek Grand Council adopted the Anishinabek Nation Long – Term Strategic Plan, Geyaabi Waa Ni Zhiwebag, at its recent Grand Council Assembly held November 3 and 4, via Zoom. Central to the implementation of the LTSP is the coordination of negotiations and self-government initiatives to move Anishinabek First Nations forward toward enhanced well-being and self-sufficiency through the revitalization of language and Anishinaabe culture and comprehensive self-government, according to First Nations’ jurisdictional priorities.

The Chiefs Committee on Governance is mandated to develop a new framework for comprehensive self-government negotiations, communications, and consultations that support the Anishinabek First Nations’ jurisdictional priorities.

In a survey, participants were asked, “What priority areas should the Anishinabek Nation focus on in the short (1-5 years), medium (5-10 years), and long term (10-25 years), including Culture, Language, Education, Employment, Economy, Health, Housing, Infrastructure, and Justice?”

  • The two top-ranked short-term priorities are language and culture.
  • The two top medium-term priorities are employment and economy, and
  • The two top long-term priorities are language and culture.

November 24, 2020

Caldwell First Nation

Windsor Star – After 230 years of fighting, Caldwell First Nation has finally secured the land for a new reserve following the $105-million land claim settlement approved in 2010. The Caldwells, also known at the Chippewas of Point Pelee, lived in the Point Pelee area before 1763 and never signed the McKee Treaty in 1790. The band, which had registered complaints since at least 1939, submitted a formal claim to Point Pelee and Pelee Island in 1973. The federal government rejected the claim in 1974. The government finally undertook a historical review of the claim in 1993, and two years later recognized “an outstanding lawful obligation (to Caldwells) from the non-fulfillment of the 1790 treaty.”

The band’s claim was accepted for negotiation in 1996.

The band has set aside land for housing, economic development, educational and cultural use and green space. A new restaurant called Three Fires is to open in the spring. The band is also working on a medicinal cannabis operation and a winery. An education and culture department will teach band members their language and culture.

November 22, 2020

Enoch Cree Nation

Nearly 80 years after lands belonging to the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta were “illegally” leased by the Canadian military, a settlement has been reached. During the Second World War, the federal government took two sections making up 485 hectares and turned them into a practice bombing range. That includes Yekau Lake which was the community’s source of water.

The lake has never recovered and to this day unexploded bombs still exist, according to Chief Billy Morin. Morin said the bombs destroyed the lake and that today, there are no fish and the water is unsafe to drink. The land is largely abandoned.

In early November, the federal government and the Enoch Cree Nation announced a $91 million settlement.

“Loss of use for our economic development purposes, notable the golf course on those 2 sections of land. Some of it will go into a per capita distribution to the Nation members themselves. Some of it will go into band program funding to upkeep some of our services when those 2 areas of land,” said Morin. “But the primary thing the 91 million dollars was made up for is land reclamation.”
Morin said removing the bombs and cleaning the lake will take years

October 22, 2020

Supreme Court

Eeyou Istchee – The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to consider Strateco Resources’ request to appeal from the Quebec Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the company’s claim against Quebec. Strateco claimed $200M in damages for Quebec’s refusal to authorize its Matoush Project, an advanced uranium exploration project on Cree territory. In August 2012, the Cree Nation declared a permanent moratorium on all uranium activities in its traditional territory of Eeyou Istchee. In November 2013, the Quebec Minister of the Environment refused to grant a certificate of authorization for the Matoush Project, citing a lack of social acceptability amongst the Cree Nation of Mistissini, the population most directly impacted by the project.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear Strateco’s proposed appeal,” said Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum. “For the Cree Nation, this case has always been about more than just the Matoush Project. It is a significant affirmation of our treaty rights. It upholds the integrity of the unique environmental and social impact review process established by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.”

“We are committed to protecting our environment and our way of life from the unacceptable risks that uranium mining presents, now and for future generations,” said former Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, who was also a witness in the 2017 trial. “The Cree Nation supports development in Eeyou Istchee that is consistent with our values, our way of life and our rights under the JBNQA.”

August 5, 2020

Indigenous Advisory Committee

NationTalk – For the first time ever, Canada’s federal energy regulator has an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) who will advise the Board of Directors on how the Canada Energy Regulatort (CER) can build a new relationship with Indigenous peoples. Members of the IAC are leaders at the local, regional and national level, are respected voices of their communities, and bring deep experience in the energy and natural resources sector.

The committee is made up of nine members, three of whom are appointed directly by national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The IAC provides advice from the diversity of its members’ Indigenous perspectives and is an integral part of the CER’s formal governance structure. IAC Members:

  • Contribute strategic advice and perspective on how the CER can make meaningful progress towards reconciliation in Canada;
  • Promote opportunities for positive systemic change through building and strengthening new relationships with the Board and CER staff;
  • Leverage their experience with the energy and/or natural resource sector in providing advice;
  • Share Indigenous values and teachings as a respected voice of their communities, so the IAC and CER can learn from each other and integrate Indigenous perspectives in the CER’s strategies, plans and actions.

July 8, 2020

Anishinabek Nation

Manitoulin Expositor – Since the Ontario Government launched their appeal of the Dec. 24, 2018 decision, the Superior Court has sided with the Anishinabek Nation in two of three challenges:

  • Phase 1: Established that the original treaty created a ‘sui generis fiduciary relationship’ (meaning the colonial government was required to manage the lands and act in the best interests of the First Nations, a relationship that was specifically applicable to this case
  • Phase 2: Justice Hennessey rejected the crown’s various arguments that it should not have to increase annuities or make up for lost payments in past. These arguments included a statute of limitations—that too much time has passed between the last annuity increase and it should not be responsible for annuities before 1963, and that the Crown may be ‘immune’ from being sued.
  • Phase 3 – Final phase addresses the compensation issue (TBD)

May 28, 2020

Tŝilhqot’in Nation

Tŝilhqot’in Nation – The ʔEsdilagh First Nation (Alexandria First Nation) enacts the historic ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan (“Sturgeon River Law”) exercising their governance over stewardship and management over the waters that flow throughout the whole of its caretaker area. The law, originating from Tŝilhqot’in inherent teachings, is unveiled in its written form.

The ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan is a component of the broader Tŝilhqot’in laws governing lands and water. The waters are vital to the Nation and the law articulates the time honoured customs to ensure water will remain safe and clean for current and future generations.

On June 26, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada declared Aboriginal title for the first time in Canadian history, in the homeland of the Tŝilhqot’in people. The community of ʔEsdilagh is one of six communities that comprise the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and as such have rights and title over their territory including the waters in their territory which connect the entire Nation and sustain the culture, wildlife, fisheries and livelihoods that exist there.

The ʔElhdaqox Dechen Ts’edilhtan was enacted by the ʔEsdilagh First Nation on May 27, 2020 and was endorsed by all six Tŝilhoqt’in Chiefs today, May 28, 2020. The law applies to all waters in ʔEsdilagh territory. Awareness and compliance of the law is sought from both existing and proposed projects, and all other users who may impact the waters throughout the territory.

“The Nation is currently appealing a BC Ministry of Environment permit amendment which allows the Gibraltar Mine to increase the rate of its effluent discharge by 50%, sending tailings effluent straight from its tailings pond to the Fraser River. Despite years of requests to seek alternate water management treatment solutions this permit was approved. By obligation of our Elders and historical teachings the Nation is united to uphold this law – water is essential to our existence. Documenting our traditional laws and having them recognized is a vital component of implementing our rights and title.
Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government:ʔEsdilagh-First-Nation-Enacts-Historic-ʔElhdaqox-Dechen-Tsedilhtan.pdf

May 21, 2020

Fort McKay First Nation

First Peoples Law – “Treaties at Risk: Case Comment on Fort McKay First Nation” In Fort McKay First Nation v Prosper Petroleum Ltd., the Alberta Court of Appeal has become the most recent Canadian court to highlight the disconnect between governments’ legal obligations to Treaty people and their shameful and continuing disregard for the Treaty relationship.

The Court held that the honour of the Crown requires governments act in a way that accomplishes the intended purposes of the Treaty, and that this overarching obligation may give rise to duties beyond consultation, including the requirement to keep promises made in negotiations to protect Treaty rights.
The Court acknowledged that the reality of extensive industrial development may make it increasingly difficult for the Province to keep certain Treaty promises, including the right to hunt. However, the Court emphasized that the Province remains under an ongoing obligation to honourably implement the Treaty, including by taking into account the cumulative effects of development on Treaty rights.

The Court further held that where a regulatory agency such as the AER is required to consider whether a project is in the “public interest,” it must ensure that its decision is consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In this case, the AER failed to fulfil its responsibility to consider the honour of the Crown and potential impacts of a project on Aboriginal and Treaty rights as part of fulfilling its public interest mandate.
As the Court held in Mikisew (2005), the honour of the Crown is at stake in the performance of every Treaty obligation. The Treaty relationship mandates an ongoing process whereby the Crown, acting honourably, must ensure that Treaty rights remain protected in the face of industrial development. Too often, however, Indigenous Peoples’ Treaty rights have been sidelined where large-scale resource projects are at stake. This is particularly true in Alberta, where oil sands development has left Fort McKay and other First Nations unable to use large portions of their lands.

The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision is an important reminder to Alberta, and other provinces, that the Crown’s Treaty promises are to be taken seriously.

February 28, 2020

First Nations Climate Initiative

LNG Industry – Our objective in forming FNCI is to work with Indigenous nations, governments, industry and environmental organizations to create a regulatory and policy platform that will enable us to achieve the goal of economic self-sufficiency through the responsible development of LNG projects in a manner that is consistent with our rights, principles and values, while meaningfully addressing climate change through the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our decision to support LNG development was made only after a rigorous environmental assessment process and a thorough process of consultation. We continue to believe that such processes can result in an LNG project that strikes the right balance by bringing significant economic opportunities to our Nation and our people while minimizing impacts to our lands and resources. We are very concerned that our aspirations and tireless efforts to bring environmentally responsible economic development to our lands and economic prosperity to our people may be frustrated by a small and disruptive minority who oppose LNG development, many of whom have agendas other than advancing the interests of Indigenous people in British Columbia.

As the first Indigenous nation in British Columbia to enter into a modern treaty, the Nisg̱a’a Nation has constitutionally protected rights of self-government, clear legal ownership of our Nisg̱a’a Lands, and significant rights and co-management responsibilities over the much larger areas covered by our treaty. These rights reflect the long-held principles and values of the Nisg̱a’a Nation and are the product of decades of negotiation. We use these rights, principles and values to thoroughly review each project that is proposed in our lands, inform ourselves about the potential impacts of the project, and determine whether it is right for our Nation.

February 17, 2020

Eeyou Istchee Cree

Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Québéc – officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding on collaborative, long-term, balanced economic development in a spirit of respect for Cree values in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory. The project stems from a patient consultative process with the Cree communities and calls for:

  • the extension of the rail network to promote economic development and reduce the impacts of trucking;
  • the electrification of certain industrial projects;
  • the sharing of infrastructure in the territory;
  • local labour force training;
  • the identification of new protected areas conducive to the connectivity of the territory’s wildlife habitats.

It is anticipated that the plan will extend over a period of 30 years to ensure the predictability and stability of the economic and social development of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory and Québec overall.

“This Memorandum of Understanding proves that it is possible to work together on ambitious socioeconomic development projects and take advantage of Northern Québec’s vast mining potential for the benefit of both our nations, in a spirit of respect for the environment, the territory and Indigenous values.”
François Legault, Premier of Québec

“The project will help to unlock the wealth of the region’s varied natural resources and create jobs and business opportunities for the Cree and James Bay residents, while protecting the environment and wildlife.”
Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and President of the Cree Nation Government

January 21, 2019

Teslin Tlingit Council

Assembly of First Nations – Yukon Supreme Court decision that affirms Canada’s constitutional obligation to meaningfully and appropriately implement the terms of Modern Treaties, particularly the TTC Final and Self-Government Agreement. The court found that Canada has only been funding TTC and other Yukon First Nations on the number of “status” citizens. However, TTC’s self-government agreement does distinguish between citizens that hold Indian status and those that don’t.

“Yukon First Nation children and families deserve proper programs and services supported by adequate funding based on the total population of citizens as determined by each respective First Nation. TTC, and other Yukon First Nations, entered into modern treaties, after decades of negotiation, to reach an agreement that would enable Canada and TTC to further their common priorities. At its core, the agreement is about ensuring Teslin Tlingit citizens, regardless of federally-imposed categories of status or non-status, can realize self-determinations in accordance with their principles and values.” Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.

December 24, 2018

Anishinabek Nation

Historic Victory for First Nations – Ontario Superior Court of Justice finds Constitutionally Protected Treaty Right to Resource Revenue Sharing – 168 years after signing of the Robinson-Huron Treaty. The action was brought against the federal and provincial governments for their failure to honour promises made in their longstanding Treaty relationship with the Anishinabek Nation that dates back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

Under the Treaty, entered into on September 9th, 1850 the Lake Huron Anishinabe agreed to share their lands and resources with the settlers ‐‐ approximately 35,700 square miles of territory. In return, the Crown promised, among other things, to share the net resource revenues generated from the use of the land by paying annuities that would be augmented based on the productivity of the Treaty territory. Although great wealth has since been generated from the territory, Anishinabek Treaty beneficiaries received only $4.00 per year since 1874.