Indian Claims Commission

Indian Claims Commission

May 20, 2005 11:00 ET

ICC Panel Recommends Government Accept Chakastaypasin Claim

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 20, 2005) - A panel of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) has found that the 15,500 acre Indian Reserve (IR) 98, southwest of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, set aside for the use of the Chakastaypasin Band was improperly taken from the band and that band members were improperly transferred to nearby reserves.

These findings come following a five-year inquiry into four different, but related claims by the James Smith Cree Nation and Cumberland House Cree Nation that were rejected by the federal government.

Some members of the Chakastaypasin Band were transferred and amalgamated into the James Smith Cree Nation at IR 100. It was the James Smith Cree Nation that made the claim reviewed by an ICC panel composed of Chief Commissioner Renee Dupuis and Commissioner Alan Holman.

"Because there was a lot of common background and history in three claims submitted by the James Smith Cree Nation and another by Cumberland House Cree Nation, we decided to conduct the four inquiries in tandem," said Chief Commissioner Dupuis. "It took a long time as these were complex matters we were looking into, and we also needed to hear from seven other bands where Chakastaypasin members went after the break up of their band."

IR 98 was set aside for the use of the Chakastaypasin Band in 1879, and almost from the time it was surveyed there were complaints from nearby settlers, especially over the fact Sugar Island and its valuable timber resources on the South Saskatchewan River was included in the reserve.

Events surrounding the Northwest Rebellion in 1885 had an impact on the Chakastaypasin Band whose members were initially branded as 'rebels' although no information to suggest a basis for the charge exists.

There were statements from elders that Chakastaypasin members left the reserves after threats were made by scouts involved in the uprising. Band members scattered to nearby reserves and to their traditional hunting grounds on the Carrot River near IR 100A.

While Chief Chakastaypasin and his family, as well as three other families were denied annuity payments for four years because they were seen as rebels, Kahtapiskowat, a headman of the band was rewarded for his loyalty.

Though Chakastaypasin members dispersed to a number reserves in the area, many, including Kahtapiskowat, relocated to an area on the Cumberland House IR 100A. Though he was never properly transferred to the Cumberland House Band, over the course of time Kahtapiskowat was signing departmental transfer documents for other Chakastaypasin members to join the band at IR 100A. The whole of the Cumberland House Band was never consulted, nor did it vote on these transfers.

The government encouraged these transfers, believing that if all Chakastaypasin members were living away from IR 98 the government could take it over, without the need for a formal surrender.

When the government received contrary legal advice, it had Kahtapiskowat and eight other 'former' Chakastaypasin members living at IR 100A sign a surrender document. The government claimed these nine names constituted a majority of the Chakastaypasin members. It never consulted other members living on other reserves.

The panel found there were no valid transfers of Chakastaypasin members into IR 100A at any relevant point in time. It found the surrender of IR 98 invalid and that Canada breached its treaty, statutory and fiduciary obligations for its failure to consult the whole of the Chakastaypasin Band. The panel found Canada also breached those same obligations in the sale of IR 98.

In its report the panel recommends Canada accept the James Smith Cree Nation's Chakastaypasin IR 98 claim for negotiation.

The Indian Claims Commission was established in 1991 to examine, at the request of a First Nation, specific land claims rejected by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The Commission also provides mediation services, at any stage in negotiations, to help First Nations and the government settle specific land claims.

A copy of this news release and the report, are available on request. They can also be found on the Indian Claims Commission web site at http://www.indianclaims.ca

Contact Information

  • Lucian Blair
    Director of Communications
    (613) 943-1607