Historic settlement agreement reached between Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and provincial and federal governments

Aerial view of Ahtakakoop Cree Nation (Photo courtesy of the Ahtakakoop Cree Nation website)

A settlement agreement for the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation Treaty Land Entitlement Claim has been reached between Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and the Federal and Provincial governments. 

The Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation will receive a total compensation of $43.3 million. The Government of Canada will provide $30.7 million and the Saskatchewan Government will provide the remaining $12.6 million. 

As part of this agreement, the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation has the option to acquire up to 40,659.97 acres to add to their reserve lands. Canada and Saskatchewan will also set aside $6.7 million as compensation to rural municipalities and school divisions once taxable land is set apart as reserve.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to have reached a successful outcome in partnership with Canada and the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation,” Don McMorris, Minister responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs said. “This settlement demonstrates the Government of Saskatchewan’s commitment to reconciliation, and provides for Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation with opportunities to invest in land, economic development, and community enhancement. These projects will benefit not only Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, but all of Saskatchewan.”

The First Nation submitted the claim in July 2001 and it was accepted for negotiations in May 2010. Members of the band approved the settlement in a community vote in October 2021, with 97% of those who voted, voting in favour. 

“Thinking of our future generations, this settlement will provide for hunting and trapping lands, cultural and ceremonial lands, as well as additional lands for our members to benefit from,” Chief Larry Ahenakew said. “In the not too distant future, this settlement will also provide for our members, economic development opportunities and create much needed employment on Ahtahkakoop owned commercial and urban lands. Ahtahkakoop would like to recognize the countless hours of work completed by the many team members from Canada and Saskatchewan, as well as our own legal teams; thank you all for your hard work. This has been a very lengthy process and Ahtahkakoop is pleased that this historic Treaty Land Entitlement Claim has finally been settled.”

The Ahtahkakoop First Nation is located near Shell Lake, SK, 72 kilometers northwest of Prince Albert.

Treaty Land Entitlement claims are intended to remedy historic allegations where First Nations received insufficient reserve land promised to them under Treaty. Canada has a policy in place to resolve these claims by negotiating with the Indigenous nations. The Federal Government has settled over 592 claims since 1973. 

Ahtahkakoop adhered to Treaty 6 in 1876, which promised one square mile per family of five, or 128 acres per person .In 1878, a federal Order in Council set apart 42,988.8 acres of land as reserve for the First Nation, enough for 336 people. Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation asserts that the total eligible membership was 368 individuals, resulting in a Treaty land entitlement shortfall of 4,115.2 acres.

“Righting this historical wrong is key to renewing Canada’s relationship with the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation,” said Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. “We recognize the harms caused to the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation and are committed to addressing them through concrete actions, for the development of the community – and all future generations.”