Fact Sheet - Roseau River First Nation's 1903 Surrender Specific Claim
The Government of Canada and the Roseau River First Nation are working together to resolve an outstanding specific claim through negotiations. The goal is to find a common solution to resolve the claim in a way that is fair to all parties. Negotiations lead to "win-win" solutions that bring closure, benefits and certainty for all Canadians.
Overview of the 1903 Surrender Specific Claim
The Roseau River First Nations claim relates to a land transaction that took place in 1903. The claim relates to the 1903 surrender and sale of approximately 12 sections of land from the Roseau River Reserve No. 2.
Canada accepted the First Nation's claim for negotiation under its Specific Claims Policy. Negotiations to conclude a settlement began in 2008. Canada and the Roseau River First Nation have recently reached a major milestone in talks to resolve this outstanding specific claim. Canada has tabled a settlement offer and the First Nation has agreed to take this offer to its members for a vote that will take place on February 8, 2011. This is an important step in the process, which brings the parties closer to achieving final resolution.
The proposed settlement agreement includes both financial compensation and a land component. This is in keeping with the approach used to settle other land-related specific claims across the country.
Under the proposed settlement, Canada will provide the First Nation with approximately $80 million to resolve the claim. Research was done during the negotiations to determine how much compensation would be fair to resolve the claim. Ultimately, the proposed settlement is the result of negotiations between the parties.
In return for this compensation, the First Nation will provide Canada with a release of its claim to ensure the claim can never be re-opened. Settlements must bring closure for all concerned.
How does the proposed settlement deal with land issues?
The same framework that is in place for negotiating agreements elsewhere in Canada applies to the settlement of the Roseau First Nation's claim. Canada does not expropriate land to settle any claims. No land will be taken away from anyone to settle this claim, nor will anyone be asked to sell their land unwillingly. The First Nation can use some of its settlement funds to buy land on the open market. Under the proposed settlement, the First Nation can buy up to 7,952 acres of land and ask Canada to give those lands reserve status. If it pursues this option, the First Nation will have up to 30 years to buy land and start the reserve creation process.
Reserve creation is not automatic. The lands must first meet the terms of the settlement and the criteria of Canada's Additions-to-Reserve Policy. This means that a number of steps must first be completed before any lands can be given reserve status. These steps include, for example, an environmental assessment and First Nation-led consultation with municipal and provincial governments.
Next Steps in the Process
A number of steps need to be completed before the claim can be settled. The negotiators have completed their work to draft the legal text of a Settlement Agreement. The First Nation has also completed its work on a proposed Trust Agreement. This Agreement will set out how the First Nation will use and manage its settlement dollars for the future benefit of its members.
First Nation members will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed Settlement Agreement and Trust Agreement on February 8, 2011. At this time, First Nation members will say 'yes' or 'no' to the proposed settlement. If a favourable vote is achieved, the Settlement Agreement must also be approved by Canada before it can be finalized.
The Roseau River First Nation is located approximately 80 kilometres south of Winnipeg, Manitoba and has approximately 2,325 members.
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