More than a dozen members of Salt River First Nation will be getting the title to their land in the coming weeks.
The transfer comes after nearly 20 years of negotiations between SRFN and the federal government.
“It feels good,” said Chief David Poitras. “Not only for me, but for some other people that have been waiting for this for many years.”
According to a news release, SRFN signed a Treaty Settlement Agreement in 2002 that included the transfer of “Corporation Lands” to members.
These lands were the result of a 1968 landslide that devastated the community.
“During this time, a number of SRFN family residences were in the danger zone, with members living in peril of another landslide. Thus, it was amid this disaster that many SRFN members were forced to relocate to Indian Affairs Branch (IAB) lands set aside for their occupation and use, while title remained with the Government. Many of the affected families constructed homes and have resided on the IAB lands for over half a century without ownership title to their residential properties,” reads the release.
The transfer gives these members more independence, said Poitras.
“They’re no longer under federal government control,” he added.
He gave the example of being able to borrow money for their land and homes as a benefit of the transfer.
In the release, he also thanked the members that had been waiting during the negotiations for their “perseverance and commitment in creating safe and healthy homes despite your lack of actual property ownership… You are all a testament to how Indigenous people can adapt and surpass the challenges they face, no matter how impossible it may seem at the time.”