(Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatoon, SK)  A Specific Claims Tribunal has ordered the federal government to pay $4.5 million for breaching its lawful obligation to pay Treaty annuities more than 100 years ago to the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nations.

“We have waited for 130 years for this outstanding Treaty Rights claim to be honoured and settled,” said Beardy’s Okemasis Chief Rick Gamble. “This is a great day for the people of Beardy’s and Okemasis and a great victory for Treaty Rights.”

In the aftermath of the 1885 Riel Resistance, the government identified 14 First Nations for their alleged participation in the resistance.  As punishment, the government withheld annuities from all band members who were labelled “rebel Indians” – including every man, woman, and child, some of whom could not have possibly participated in any way in the resistance.

The government also confiscated guns, ammunition, horses, cattle, carts, wagons, harness, and Treaty medals from these First Nations while strictly enforcing a pass system, which restricted Indians from leaving their reserves without permission.  In addition, the government did not allow the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation people to have a Chief and Council until 1936.

“The specific claim by the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation is about the implementation and the protection of treaty promises that were made when Chief Beardy entered into treaty,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “The Tribunal’s decision will set a precedent for the other First Nations who experienced similar treatment and have specific claims with the government.”

Canada withheld Treaty payments from 1885 to 1888 to every man, woman, and child from 14 First Nations that include: Chakastaypasin, Little Pine, Lucky Man, Moosomin, Mosquito/Grizzly Bear’s Head/Lean Man, Muskeg Lake, One Arrow, Onion Lake, Poundmaker, Red Pheasant, Sweetgrass, Thunderchild, Young Chipewayan.

 

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