Federal government reaches $7M settlement with B.C. First Nation

CRANBROOK, B.C. — The federal government and a British Columbia First Nation have reached a $7-million settlement over a lumber grievance that dates back to 1942. 

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree and ?aqam Chief Joe Pierre Jr. announced the settlement Thursday, where Canada will pay the cash to compensate the First Nation for its economic losses from the timber surrender. 

The Crown-Indigenous Relations Ministry says in a statement the socio-economic gaps between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities exist because of “decades of colonial policies” that “led to the denial and dispossession of land and resources.”

Anandasangaree says the latest settlement is a step made by the federal government to “be a good partner” in the development of Indigenous communities.

The grievance stemmed from the surrender and sale of timber on Aq’am’s Kootenay Reserve No. 1 in 1942, where Canada is described as having failed to “properly manage the sale of the timber,” selling it at a low rate that resulted in economic losses for the community.

Aq’am, formerly known as the St. Mary’s Indian Band, is located five kilometres north of Cranbrook, B.C., and is one of the member communities of the Ktunaxa Nation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2024.

The Canadian Press