Snuneymuxw people vote to accept $49M settlement

Snuneymuxw citizens voted Saturday to ratify a settlement agreement with Canada on what is known as the 79-Acre Claim.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation has voted to accept the largest specific claim settlement in B.C. history.

Snuneymux citizens voted Saturday to ratify a settlement agreement with Canada on what is known as the 79-Acre Claim for a 32-hectare reserve in the Stewart Avenue area that was created in the 1850s and was unlawfully taken in the 1880s. The Snuneymuxw First Nation will receive $49,148,121, which according to a Snuneymuxw press release is the largest specific claim settlement in B.C. by a factor of five.

In the press release, Douglas White III, acting chief, said he was happy to announce the results of Saturday’s vote.

“Our people have voted nearly unanimously to accept the terms of the settlement agreement and trust agreement,” he said.

Voter turnout was 64.6 per cent and 98.1 per cent of citizens voted to ratify.

White noted that the Snuneymuxw have the smallest reserve land base per capita in the country.

“The settlement cannot change the past and how that past has structured our present reality,” said White. “But it does provide Snuneymuxw with a transformative infusion of resources to address the significant needs of our nation.”

Snuneymuxw will create a trust to receive the settlement amount and the trust will be managed by community trustees. Erralyn Thomas, Snuneymuxw councillor, said in the press release that it’s a “conservative estimate” that it could take 8-12 months before the money is transferred.

“We will be taking immediate steps to establish the trust and get it ready for the hard work it will be doing over generations to provide ongoing benefits to members of our nation,” said Thomas.

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