Canada's Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs visited southern Alberta this weekend to commemorate the settlement of a First Nation claim that dates back to the Second World War.
The Department of National Defense confiscated 55,000 acres of land in the Blood Reserve, near Lethbridge, more than 75 years ago, for use as a bombing and gunnery range.
Now, the government has settled with the Blood Reserve for $6.3 million in financial compensation — which Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett says is an important step on the federal government's part towards reconcilation.
“After over 75 years of this much-awaited claim resolution, today’s announcement marks an important step in renewing our relationship and advancing reconciliation with the Blood Tribe.
"I’m glad that this negotiated settlement will open the door to new opportunities for the Blood Tribe to invest in a more prosperous future that will benefit its members and all Canadians," Bennett said in a statement about the historic event.
“I want to acknowledge the respect and cooperation we’ve had up to this point,” Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head said in an interview with Global News.
“I think it says a lot about this government wanting to settle past grievances and past wrongs.”
Chief Weasel Head said the land, which was once a spiritual area, was unusable by his tribe for years.
“We weren’t quite sure about whether there were still shells out there or whether it was a high hazard area,” he told the Lethbridge Herald.
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