The Lubicon Cree land claim has been dragging on for decades. Last week, the province, the feds and the First Nation announced the end of it. At the announcement was Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee, in whose riding LCFN exists.
It’s no doubt a big relief and something to be happy about.
“It was pretty emotional to be there,” says Larivee. “It was my privilege to be part of the signing.”
In this type of situation, the negotiations are complicated by there being three parties. Principally it’s between the First Nation and the federal government, but since the land has to come from the province, it has a big role to play. For one reason or another, it never got done before, though attempts were made.
Larivee says the Rachel Notley government made a commitment when elected in 2015 to get the thing settled, building on the start that Premier Jim Prentice had made in his brief tenure. It took 3 ½ years and “wasn’t easy,” Larivee says.
One reason the signing ceremony was so emotional, she continues, is because “there are some pretty terrible conditions there. Because they’ve been caught in negotiations for so long. Since 1939 they’ve been trying to resolve it.”
Larivee notes that Grant Notley, the current Premier’s father, was familiar with the matter when he was the NDP leader and fought for it then.
Besides the 95 square miles in the settlement, there is cash (including $18 million from the province). It will be a big boost to the community, Larivee says, in terms of new infrastructure and housing.
“It’s a good example of what a commitment to reconciliation looks like,” she says.
Larivee says she’s looking forward to a Nov. 13 celebration of the settlement at Little Buffalo.