Carolyn Bennett, Canadian minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, was at the Snuneymuxw administration building Tuesday for a celebration of the largest specific claim settlement in the province’s history. (The News Bulletin)

Canadian government, Snuneymuxw celebrate $49M settlement

Canadian Minister Carolyn Bennett commits to new way of working with First Nations

The largest specific claim settlement in the province’s history was celebrated by the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the federal government Tuesday.

Carolyn Bennett, Canadian minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs was at the Snuneymuxw administration building where she helped mark the signing of a $49-million settlement agreement and committed to a different way of working with the First Nation.

Last year, the Snuneymuxw voted to accept a settlement agreement with Canada over its 79-Acre Claim along the Newcastle Channel, unlawfully taken in the 1880s.

  • RELATED: Claim settlement cash would change Snuneymuxw fortunes

At the celebration, Chief John Wesley acknowledged the work of his council and staff, previous leadership and elders in reaching the point of settlement, which he said took 32 years and is a “big milestone.”

“The peoples and the government of Canada over the past year have achieved a historic settlement of specific claims about our loss of 79-Acre Thlap’Qwum Indian Reserve along the Newcastle Channel,” said Wesley, who noted the nation has felt the loss of the reserve every day since the 1880s and is short of land with 200 people on a housing list.

Though proud the settlement amounts to the largest specific claim in B.C., Wesley also said money can never fully compensate for the loss of sacred grounds.

The Snuneymuxw received $49 million in financial compensation in August, which has gone to community as well as into a trust. A government press release said the money can be used to buy land or invest in new opportunities for community and business development that benefits the nation’s members and the local economy.

The First Nation can also apply to have up to 32 hectares of land granted reserve status under an additions to reserve policy – a process Bennett promised to accelerate.

“We think that this will reach a solution that will meet the needs and interests of all of you as we go forward and also it’s a huge settlement, a clear signal we hope, that resolving claims is the right thing to do and that this is about agreements that offer an important path to your nation’s economic growth,” said Bennett, who told media she wants to begin conversations on land right away.

Wesley said he heard promising things from the minister about the additions to reserve, which he said is needed and he hopes will come quickly. He wouldn’t say what land Snuneymuxw is interested in.

The minister also told the Snuneymuxw the federal government will go forward based on an understanding in the Douglas Treaties and spoke to a new way of doing things where First Nations will be approached about what they want to talk about and what they can do with government, and where a mandate will be based around the nation’s wants. Previously, Bennett said she’d get a mandate from cabinet that she’d negotiate within.

“What we now know that as we rebuild trust and this creative new way of doing things, that we can actually accelerate the progress going forward in that there’s now this basis on which we can continue to work and really explore what the nation needs and then our job is to help them realize their vision,” she said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kellers Jewellers in Lantzville suffers break-in

Incident happened around 5:30 a.m. Oct. 21, say police.

Petroleum spill temporarily closes crab fishing dock

Dock closed for public safety after oily sheen forms on water off Maffeo Sutton Park

Designs revealed for downtown conference centre hotel

A development permit application for the Courtyard by Marriott hotel has been submitted

Mobility scooter stolen during medical emergency

The theft occurred Oct. 9 along Nicol Street

Councillors recommend raising Lantzville’s legal budget

Legal budget increase will mean tax hike for residents

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Beefs & Bouquets, Oct. 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

UPDATE: Canada C3 makes tour stop in Nanaimo

Research icebreaker vessel on tour as part of Canada 150, stops in Harbour City on Saturday, Oct. 21

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

VIDEO: Nanaimo school district expands testing for lead in the water

Annual facilities grant money totalling $110,000 allocated for testing, anticipated to begin Nov. 6

UPDATE: Fire at old Stewart Avenue restaurant started in basement

Investigation determines where fire started, but not why or how

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Most Read