'Long awaited' $122.3M settlement paid to members of Clearwater River Dene Nation

Treaty 8 included First Nations from the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia to the Northwest Territories and a portion of land in north west Saskatchewan. (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada)

Members of Clearwater River Dene Nation are receiving compensation from the Government of Canada for unfulfilled terms of Treaty 8 signed between the Crown and First Nations in the Athabasca Lake region in 1899.

Treaty 8 included a “cows and plows” stipulation that those who wanted to farm would receive oxen and hand tools to farm the land.

“That particular agreement was never adhered to,” said Chief Teddy Clark.

Clearwater River Dene Nation was awarded $122.3 million that was distributed to more than 2,600 band members June 1. Each member received a payment of $44,000.

Children under the age of 18 will have their settlements placed in trust until they reach adulthood. Clark estimates about half of the members are under the age of 18.

“It feels good to see our people prosper in that area and this will be remembered for a long time,” said Clark.

The first portion of a claim began in 2013 when the band first began to gather research. In January 2017 a claim was filed against the Crown.

“We negotiated very, very carefully. This is a settlement that’s been long awaited,” said Clark.

The band is using the First Nations Bank of Canada to help with the transfer of funds to band members.

Clark said they are also looking into other terms of Treaty 8 that include the ammunition and twine component to see if their band members are eligible to pursue further claims.

Clearwater River Dene Nation’s band office is in the village of Clearwater River located on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche.

Some of their land is located 24 kilometres north of Buffalo Narrows.