'Even the ancestors are celebrating': Sask. First Nation moving forward after 26-year legal battle over land
SASKATOON -- Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head Lean Man First Nation is celebrating a victory after a legal battle that’s taken 26 years.
The First Nation is receiving a $141 million settlement, plus interest for the unlawful surrender and use of its land in 1905.
“It’s nice to know that it’s over and we’re just going to keep moving forward and help our people out and help our community out here,” said Mosquito First Nation councilman Tristan Bird.
In January the Specific Claims Tribunal of Canada awarded the first nation more than $126 million as compensation for the unlawful surrender of 14,670 acres of land in 1905.
The First Nation says while it was the largest award given by the tribunal, it wasn’t enough.
“We then had great discussions with some of our knowledge keepers and current leadership and we decided we’d move forward with a judicial review, but at the same time, write a strong letter to Canada,” Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman told CTV News.
In March, the number was adjusted to a final $141 million plus interest.
It will be locked in a trust and in 25 years will be able to provide leverage for opportunity and growth, she said.
Aguilar-Antiman says it’s an opportunity for more housing, education, economic development and infrastructure in the nation.
“The nation will always have money and financial support and resources to build, build and build.”
Jenny Spyglass was the first woman Chief of Mosquito First Nation and says she’s proud and excited for the settlement.
“I’m really excited because there’s not too many Elders that are left on this First Nation.”
Aguilar-Antiman says the settlement is just one of five other claims the First Nation is pursuing.
She has hopes that the youth will become lawyers and council members to move the nation forward.
“This is a celeration and even the ancestors are celebrating.”