Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

September 12, 2011 14:33 ET

Historic Land Claim Settlement Marks New Beginning for Bigstone and Peerless Trout First Nations

WABASCA, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 12, 2011) - A special ceremony was held in Wabasca today to celebrate the conclusion of a historic land claim settlement in northern Alberta and to mark a major turning point for Bigstone and Peerless Trout First Nations. The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the Honourable Len Webber, Minister of Aboriginal Relations for Alberta, attended today's event along with Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Gordon Auger, Peerless Trout First Nation Chief James Alook and community members.

"Today we celebrate the signing of one of the largest and most complex land claim settlements in Canadian history," said Minister Duncan. "This landmark settlement marks a new beginning for the Bigstone and Peerless Trout First Nations, opening up new opportunities for economic development that will bring long-term benefits to the lives of First Nation members."

"Today marks a milestone for the Bigstone Cree Nation as members are celebrating the fact that we have reached a historic land claim settlement on issues that go back to the signing of Treaty in 1899," said Bigstone Chief Gordon Auger. "This settlement represents a new beginning for our community and the start of many more opportunities for our members. I am proud of the commitment and dedication displayed by Bigstone's Negotiating Team over the years and jubilant that the community rewarded our efforts with a strong acceptance vote."

"The settlement of this historic land claim in northern Alberta has resulted in the creation of the Peerless Trout First Nation," said Peerless Trout Chief James Alook. "Today truly marks a new beginning for members of the Peerless Trout First Nation as we now are recognized as a First Nation and will have the resources to build a community. We are making progress on building our new community, which will bring many benefits to the members of Peerless Trout and allow members to grow and develop."

"Alberta has played a key role in successfully settling 13 land claims since 1986 and Bigstone is the largest ever," said the Honourable Len Webber, Minister of Aboriginal Relations. "This agreement creates more certainty for industry, but more importantly, a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Bigstone and the new Peerless Trout First Nation."

A key part of the settlement was the creation of a new band for the communities of Peerless Lake and Trout Lake. Until recently, Bigstone had five communities – one at its reserve at Wabasca and four in the communities of Calling Lake, Chipewyan Lake, Peerless Lake and Trout Lake. Members of Peerless Trout First Nation were members of Bigstone Cree Nation, but historically always considered themselves as separate and distinct from Bigstone. The Peerless Trout First Nation was officially constituted on May 19, 2010. Peerless Trout members will now be governed by their own Chief and council and take advantage (along with Bigstone members) of viable new economic development opportunities stemming from this settlement.

The settlement resolves outstanding issues relating to treaty promises dating back to the late 1800s. It includes approximately $259 million and up to 140,000 acres of unoccupied provincial Crown land to become new reserve land for the First Nations. This figure also includes $59 million for renovations and construction of new infrastructure projects for the First Nations. Alberta's contribution includes $28 million and a commitment to construct two new elementary schools in Peerless Lake and Trout Lake, as well as water treatment plants for each of these communities.

Negotiated settlements help rebuild and strengthen relationships and generate benefits for all Canadians. These benefits include economic benefits, new opportunities for business partnerships and certainty for First Nations, industry and area communities. Negotiations lead to "win-win" situations that balance the interests of all Canadians.

Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Moira Wolstenholme
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable John Duncan
    (819) 997-0002

    Media Relations
    Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
    (819) 953-1160

    Bigstone Cree Nation
    Loretta Gladue
    (780) 331-3174

    Peerless Trout First Nation
    Linda Noskie
    (780) 701-5615