POLITICS

RCMP help Saskatchewan band cope with windfall from land-claim settlement

06/21/2012 11:18 EDT | Updated 08/21/2012 05:12 EDT
KAMSACK, Sask. - RCMP say they are closely monitoring a reserve northeast of Yorkton in an effort to prevent crime related to a massive financial payout to band members.

The Cote First Nation recently got $130 million from the federal government in exchange for land that was promised to members more than 100 years ago.

Band members are receiving individual cheques for $20,000 — $25,000 for elders — or can choose to receive $1,500 a year for the next 16 years.

Kamsack RCMP Staff Sgt. Greg Nichol says they've been working closely with chief and council for the past few months.

Nichol says the RCMP has been given the band's blessing to take whatever steps necessary to address any crime issues that might pop up.

He says it’s hard to predict what could happen with a large sum of money dropping into the community so rapidly.

“We’ve got bodies on here, we’re making ourselves visible on the Cote and we’ve done that throughout the whole process and we’ve had nothing but co-operation,” said Nichol.

The majority of the approximately 3,500 band members live off reserve, some travelling from other provinces in order to pick up the cheques in person.

Chief and council decided against sending cheques by mail and are still deciding what will be done for people who are unable to pick up their payments.

“When there is a lot of money, I guess it could go hand in hand that there could be ... potential for people to move into the area to try to take advantage of some of our local residents,” said Nichol.

The Kamsack RCMP have already delivered a workshop to elders on reducing their chances of being victimized by crime or being taken advantage of when they receive their payouts.

(CJME)