Deroche – On November 10, Chief Alice Thompson, Leq’á:mel First Nation, and the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that the First Nation and the Government of Canada have reached a settlement of the Leq’á:mel First Nation’s Klatwaas Colonial Reserve Reduction Specific Claim.
Minister Anandasangaree joined Chief Thompson in community for a signing ceremony on November 14th.
Canada will provide the Leq’á:mel First Nation compensation in the amount of $75 million for allotting lands and then subsequently unilaterally reducing the reserve without compensation. This settlement agreement marks another step toward rebuilding Canada’s relationship and addressing the historical grievances to Leq’á:mel First Nation.
The Colony of British Columbia prior to confederation set aside approximately 2,000 acres in 1864 to create the Klatwaas Reserve. In 1868, the Colony of British Columbia unilaterally reduced the Klatwaas reserve without compensation.
- The Leq’á:mel First Nation, formerly known as Lakahahmen First Nation, is located near Deroche, in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia , about 12 kilometres east of the District of Mission. They are a member government of the Sto:lo Nation Chiefs Council.
- The Leq’á:mel First Nation originally filed their claim in July 2017. It was accepted for negotiation in June 2020 and negotiations began following the First Nation’s acceptance of Canada’s offer to negotiate in August 2020.
- The settlement agreement was ratified by the membership of the Leq’á:mel First Nation on August 31, 2023. Following this successful community ratification, the Chief and Council of the First Nation executed the settlement agreement on September 20, 2023 and Minster Anandasangaree executed the settlement agreement on behalf of Canada on November 8, 2023.
- From April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, 56 specific claims were resolved for $3.5 billion in compensation, 64 claims were filed with the Minister, and Canada made an offer to negotiate on 58 claims. From January 1, 2016, to September 30, 2023, 270 specific claims have been resolved for close to $9.5 billion in compensation.
- Since the Specific Claims program began in 1973 to September 30, 2023, 675 claims, totaling $13.3 billion in compensation, have been settled through negotiations.
“This is a significant moment, not only for the Leq’á:mel First Nation but for all parties working to advance reconciliation in Canada. The Klatwaas Settlement Agreement represents seven years of hard work by so many. I would specifically like to thank the previous leadership of the Nation who helped lay the foundation for this settlement. It is meaningful to be able to celebrate this milestone as a Nation. The Leq’á:mel Council is committed to ensuring that all our members benefit from this settlement and that the funds are utilized to forge a brighter future for our community for generations to come.”
Chief of Leq’á:mel First Nation
“The Klatwass Specific Claim Settlement is the result of our ancestor’s knowledge and determination that fueled our Leq’a:mel Leadership’s determination to achieve the 1915 compensation promise for loss of lands by Governor Douglas. Our Leq’a:mel Ancestors will rest better because of the reconciling of a past wrong. My hands are raised up to my Leq’a:mel Leadership and the current Government of Canada who together have achieved this historic moment in our time.”
Elder, Leq’á:mel First Nation
“For hundreds of years, Canada has benefitted off lands that were unlawfully taken from Indigenous Peoples – these debts are long overdue, and it’s time that Canada repays them. The resolution of this claim is an important step in Canada’s relationship with the Leq’á:mel First Nation. I’d like to thank Leq’á:mel First Nation’s leadership for their dedication to this settlement agreement, which will support your community’s wellbeing going forward. More to do.”
The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations