The Akisqnuk First Nation has plans to pressure the Government of Canada to honour a recent ruling that recognizes its claim over 3,000 acres of land in the Madias Tatley area, which is located east of the nation. The ruling is by a Specific Claims Tribunal that reviewed the Akisqnuk reserve creation and additional land decisions that were never implemented.
The decision to exclude land in the Madias Tatley area from the Akisqnuk First Nation dates back over a century. An 1884 recommendation by the Indian Reserve Commissioner to include the Madias Tatley area in the Akisqnuk reserve and another in 1915 by the federal-provincial Royal Commission on Indian Affairs did not come to fruition in spite of the extensive use of the land by the Ktunaxa people of the Akisqnuk First Nation.
The tribunal found that in ignoring the recommendations, Canada breached its legal obligations as fiduciary for the First Nation.
Its been a long, long fight, said Lorne Shovar, Akisqnuk First Nation chief. We had the tribunal hearing about a year ago. We dont have the property back yet. Its just a decision from the tribunal so theres still various steps that need to happen before theres any type of compensation or land allocation.
The Akisqnuk First Nation is pleased with the decision and Mr. Shovar hopes to help his nation correct an injustice issue that has the potential to acknowledge many generations of elders and families.
Right now, weve got a document of next steps, so were going to pressure the federal government to honour the decision of the tribunal, said Mr. Shovar.
He remains optimistic that the Canadian government will help develop a new relationship with the First Nation in the spirit of reconciliation. He added the process wouldnt take place overnight.
It has been an extremely long battle, said Mr. Shovar, noting the issue became a major priority for the nation before he joined council in 2004. We, at Akisqnuk, are both excited and optimistic that we can move forward in a good way not only with the community but with the federal and provincial governments.