SASKATOON — The Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation hopes a compensation hearing next week will be a big step toward addressing outstanding treaty rights issues.
After the Northwest Rebellion in 1885, the federal government labelled men, women and children on the First Nation, along with 13 other Saskatchewan First Nations, as "rebel Indians" even though many could not have possibly taken part in the resistance.
When the uprising ended, the government withheld treaty annuity payments, and a pass system was strictly enforced, not allowing residents to leave the reserves without permission.
In May, the Specific Claims Tribunal ruled the band should have received their treaty payments during that eight-year period.
Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation Chief Rick Gamble believes a significant compensation could be a big step towards resolving treaty rights issues.
Gamble says the federal government is still spending $150 million to fight First Nations issues, but they just want to sit down with the government and talk.
"I would like to thank Beardy's for taking the lead in this claim," says Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations vice-chief E. Dutch Lerat. "The federal government withheld funding from every man, woman and child on these First Nations and deemed them to be rebels."
Next week's hearing could also shed light on what is owed to the other 13 First Nations affected during the time," says Lerat.
The other bands include Chakastaypasin, Little Pine, Lucky Man, Moosomin, Mosquito/ Grizzly Bear's Head/Lead Man, Muskeg Lake, One Arrow, Onion Lake, Poundmaker, Red Pheasant, Sweetgrass, Thunderchild and Young Chipewayan.
The Canadian Press