This unique claim settlement concluded with Bigstone Cree in 2010 is one of the largest in Canadian history and it also led to the creation of a new First Nation in northern Alberta – Peerless Trout First Nation.
Robert Moberly, Master of Ceremonies, Bigstone Cree Nation:
This is Bigstone Cree Nation territory…of course we all know today's a very historic event.
The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development:
We are here today to sign the largest land claim settlement in the history of Alberta and one of the biggest settlement agreements in Canada.
Bigstone Cree Nation is based in Wabasca-Desmarais in Northern Alberta and includes the surrounding communities of Calling Lake and Chipewyan Lake and until recently Peerless Lake and Trout Lake.
In 1989 and again in 2000, the Bigstone Cree Nation filed claims with the government that dealt with broken treaty promises dating back to the late 1800s.
After complex negotiations, an agreement was reached in 2010.
This is the largest claim settlement in Alberta's history and it is unlike any other reached today in Canada as it includes money for new infrastructure. It is an example of what can be achieved when partners work together.
Chris Wilson, Manager, Negotiation Support Unit, Alberta region, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada:
To see that level of cooperation with such a diverse and large group …5 different communities coming together to find a position that they can table with Canada and Alberta was extraordinary.
Joe C. Auger, Elder, Bigstone Cree Nation- Calling Lake Community Member:
I'm proud of those people that have been working on it…a lot of them are gone…they're not with us anymore.
This claim settlement includes about $231 million from the federal government, extensive new infrastructure and 140,000 acres of Provincial Crown land to become new reserve land. Alberta's contribution was key to making this unique settlement possible.
KEY ELEMENTS OF THE SETTLEMENT
The Honourable John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development:
There will be new water and sewer distribution systems and a fire hall constructed in each community as well as new schools in Peerless Lake and Trout Lake.
These investments, complemented by additional infrastructure funding to be provided by the Province of Alberta, will mean a real and sustained investment in the quality of life in these communities.
With this settlement, the outlying communities of Calling Lake and Chipewyan Lake finally have their own reserves and elected representation on Bigstone Cree Nation Council.
Clifford R. Cardinal Auger , Treaty Land Entitlement Negotiator Bigstone Cree Nation Councillor, Calling Lake:
My grandfather wasn't given the proper land and now we do have the proper land for the membership that we have there.
Eva Yellowknee, Bigstone Cree Nation Councillor, Chipewyan Lake:
And now we have more land for our community… a lot of people have said that they are planning to come back to the community and stay.
One of the most unique features of this settlement is the creation of a new First Nation – Peerless Trout First Nation. Alberta provided 63,000 acres of reserve land for this new First Nation.
Soloman Noskyie, Peerless Trout First Nation Elder:
"Welcome to the New Peerless Trout First Nation."
Chief James Alook, Peerless Trout First Nation:
There's going to be new housing, new water, sewage systems, you know, new schools for each community … we'll be looking at a very state-of-the-art high school which is very much needed in our area.
William Houle, Councillor Peerless Trout First Nation:
We're trying to become self-sustained …so …with this new Nation that's gonna give us a really big boost.
Joe Lewis Gladue, Lands Officer, Bigstone Cree Nation, Wabasca Community Member:
The children will have a better chance … we're trying to move forward from here and hopefully in the future we'll have a vibrant and prosperous community.
Chief James Alook- Peerless Trout First Nation:
This is our chance …you know. We have one shot at it, and I'm sure we're gonna do it right.