Treaty Land Entitlement in Saskatchewan

Between 1871 and 1907, First Nations in Saskatchewan signed a series of treaties with the Crown, known as the numbered treaties. Each of these treaties provided reserve land to be set apart by the Government of Canada for a First Nation. The size of reserve land was based on a First Nation's population and the per capita formula within the specific treaty. In Saskatchewan, many First Nations received their entire land allocations under their treaties. However, some First Nations did not. Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) agreements fulfill federal obligations to set apart the promised amount of reserve land as part of those treaties.

In 1930, the federal government passed a series of Natural Resources Transfer Acts (NRTA) which transferred federal control of lands and natural resources to the Prairie Provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The Government of Canada had gained control when it purchased the land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870.The NRTA also included a legal requirement that the Prairie Provinces, including Saskatchewan, must provide unoccupied Crown land to the Government of Canada to assist in fulfilling its outstanding land-related treaty obligations to First Nations. The NRTA thus assured Saskatchewan's participation in fulfilling the Government of Canada's TLE obligations to First Nations in that province.

On September 22, 1992, 25 First Nations in Saskatchewan signed the TLE Framework Agreement to settle their outstanding TLE. Under this agreement, the provincial and federal governments committed to providing the signatory First Nations with $440 million over 12 years to buy land, mineral rights and improvements, which include buildings and structures affixed to the land. Canada initially provided 70 percent of the overall costs of the settlement, while Saskatchewan covered the remaining 30 percent. The Saskatchewan government will subsequently reimburse up to 19 per cent of the total costs to Canada from savings arising out of the transfer of certain northern communities for the use and benefit of First Nations.

Entitlement First Nations may purchase federal, provincial or private land anywhere in Saskatchewan. All land sales are on a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis, with all existing interests in the land addressed. As of August 2016, 23 out of the original 25 First Nations have achieved shortfall. Shortfall is the minimum amount of land required to be purchased and set apart as reserve, as defined in the TLE Framework Agreement.

First Nations that have achieved shortfall:

Since the signing of the Framework Agreement on September 22, 1992, eight additional First Nations that were not original signatories to the Framework Agreement have now been validated under TLE and have ratified and signed their band-specific agreements. First Nations still working to achieve shortfall:

Of those eight, five – Cowessess, Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Carry the Kettle, Kawacatoose and Nekaneet – have achieved shortfall.

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