Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

June 18, 2008 19:40 ET

Justice at Last-After 60 Years of Calls for Action, Government of Canada Delivers Specific Claims Tribunal Act

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 18, 2008) - The Specific Claims Tribunal Act has received Royal Assent. The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, and B.C. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo), today witnessed Governor General Michaelle Jean officially approve the jointly developed legislation. The Act creates an independent tribunal with binding powers to resolve specific claims.

"In just 12 months, our Government has achieved something that has been sought after for over 60 years," said Minister Strahl. "This historic legislation, which delivers on a commitment made in an action plan launched by the Prime Minister last June, will ensure specific claims are solved more quickly and fairly. We are the first government to create a tribunal whose work to resolve these claims will benefit not just First Nation people, but all Canadians."

"It was an honour to have been mandated to co-chair the joint task force charged with the unprecedented task of jointly developing with the federal government a faster and fairer process to settle hundreds of outstanding specific claims," said B.C. Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo), "For decades First Nations have been seeking improvements to this process. I believe with this legislation we now have the potential to finally realize that goal."

The Specific Claims Tribunal Act includes separate three-year time lines for assessing and negotiating claims. If this time runs out, First Nations can take their claims to the tribunal for a binding decision. The tribunal, which will be made up of sitting superior court judges, can award compensation on claims worth up to $150 million.

The Government of Canada is also moving forward with the other practical measures to ensure greater transparency, faster processing and better access to mediation.

As work to establish the tribunal gets underway, the Government of Canada will continue to work with the AFN on the Liaison and Oversight Committee that was set up under a political agreement on specific claims reform.

These very necessary and overdue actions will improve and accelerate the resolution of specific claims in order to provide justice to First Nation claimants and certainty for all Canadians.

This news release is also available on the Internet at: www.inac.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Josee Bellemare
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160