Blueberry and Doig First Nations members vote 'overwhelmingly in favour' of Treaty Land Entitlement

Doig Blueberry chiefs

Blueberry River First Nations and Doig River First Nation say members voted “overwhelmingly in favour” of a Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) settlement.

The June 15 vote follows around two decades of First Nation land negotiations with each other along with multiple levels of government.

Blueberry and Doig are descendants from the Fort St. John Beaver Band. A joint release says the band received a reserve approximately 13,000 acres less than what they were entitled to under Treaty 8.

 “Since 1916, the members of the Fort St. John Beaver Band and their descendants have suffered the loss of use and benefit of the promised reserve land, while at the same time Treaty 8 territory was opened for settlement and commercial development, producing enormous financial and other benefits for the Province of BC and industry.”

The TLE claim was accepted by the federal government in September 2004 and negotiations have focused on fulfillment of the reserve land promise and compensation for lost use.   

Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay said the settlement intends to improve the lives of all members.

“It is a time to celebrate but also a time to reflect on the hardships many of our elders went through over the years,” he said.

Makadahay said members selected land in both British Columbia and Alberta.

Meanwhile, Chief Judy Desjarlais said  “Blueberry River identified TLE reserve land areas of interest in 2005 based on cultural, spiritual and traditional use values, as well as our community’s strong need for new residential settlements - the lands included in our settlement reflect the priorities and values identified by our membership.”

Desjarlais called the settlement a ‘generational opportunity’ but wished deceased leadership and elders could see the realization of their ‘great vision.’

The Blueberry River Chief adding the negotiations with the federal government along with the provinces of B.C. and Alberta have been challenging.

In the coming weeks, each Nation’s Chief and Council will move to sign negotiated TLE settlement agreements in accordance with direction provided by membership.