Feds hand over long-owed land

By PAUL TURENNE, SUN MEDIA In some cases it's more than 100 years late, but it appears the federal government is making some progress when it comes to "giving" Manitoba First Nations land owed for generations.

SHORTFALL

At Monday's annual meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, new Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said Ottawa had transferred 159,185 acres of land to Manitoba bands for use as reserve land within the past year.

That land is part of an obligation the feds agreed to in 1997, when they -- along with the province and 19 Manitoba First Nations -- signed the Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement. Four other independent agreements were signed at the same time, with all the agreements binding the federal government to fulfil land commitments it made to the reserves when it signed treaties with them between 1871 and 1910.

To address the century-old shortfall, the governments agreed to turn up to 1.3 million acres of mostly Crown land into reserve land, as well as pay more than $200 million in compensation.

Up to last August though, only about 130,000 acres -- roughly 10% of the commitment -- had become reserve land.

More land also appears to be on the way. Over the past few months, the Manitoba government has transferred more than 113,000 acres of provincial Crown land to the federal government, who will in turn give it to six of the reserves who signed the 1997 agreements.

TRANSFERRED

The recently transferred land will eventually go to the Long Plain, Gods Lake, Bunibonibee (Oxford House), Manto Sipi (Gods River), Mathias Colomb (Pukatawagan), and Sapotaweyak (Shoal River) bands.

By PAUL TURENNE, SUN MEDIA

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