Credits: STEVENS LEBLANC/JOURNAL DE QUEBEC/QMI AGENCYI
Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of Canada's largest land claim settlement.
On September 22, 1992, at Wanuskewin, S.K., then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow along with 25 chiefs signed a deal that would provide $445 million to Saskatchewan bands to acquire 1.5 million acres.
The main purpose of the Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement was to satisfy outstanding legal obligations owed to the First Nations by the federal Crown.
“While we recognize that the 33 First Nations have accomplished a great deal these past 20 years, we are concerned that hundreds of thousands of land selections remain stuck at various stages of the reserve creation process," Federation of Saskatchewan Indians Nations (FSIN) vice-chief Bobby Cameron said in a statement.
The organization says that, to date, over 800,000 acres have achieved reserve status, but another 400,000 remain at various stages of the federal and provincial approval process.
“I believe the most important aspect of these agreements is that they provide an opportunity to First Nations to acquire lands which will allow them to develop economic opportunities, to create jobs, to provide lands for housing and to provide for other social needs for members of their communities,” Cameron said.
“First Nations hold dearly to the belief that their relationship and connection to the land is essential to the health, well-being and future of their people.”
Cameron says the economic status of 33 of the province's First Nations has improved "dramatically for some" but added that "we can not allow ourselves to be complacent since we still have some serious economic and social issues to overcome.”