Tribunal rules part of downtown Edmundston on lands belonging to Maliseet

Edmundston's mayor says the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation has won an "important victory" before a land claims tribunal.

The Specific Claims Tribunal has ruled that part of downtown Edmundston is on lands belonging to the First Nation.

Representatives from the First Nation stated during this summer's hearings that the original size of their reserve, created in 1787, was about 3,900 acres, but is now roughly 700 acres.

"We can only be happy for our friends and partners since this will help repair some of the harm done in the past," said Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard in a statement on Tuesday.

"We signed a Friendship Agreement in 2014 and we work together on a number of issues and projects."

Although the tribunal has no authority to transfer lands, it can order the federal government to award up to $150 million in compensation.

The federal government cannot appeal the decision but has 30 days to ask for a judicial review.