SASKATOON – The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has lent its support to a Saskatchewan First Nation owed millions of dollars dating back 131 years. After the Riel Resistance of 1885, the Government of Canada withheld three years of payments to the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation.
Last May, an independent tribunal ruled the federal government owed the First Nation $4 million in unpaid annuities.
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A compensation hearing is scheduled for next week at Wanuskewin Heritage Centre in Saskatoon.
However, Chief Rick Gamble of the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation said the money isn’t as important as the recognition of treaty rights.
“This is just one iota of what can happen if the Government of Canada and the courts keep ruling in our favour because sooner or later, it’s going to snowball,” Gamble said at a news conference organized at the FSIN’s Saskatoon office.
From 1885 to 1888, the federal government cut off funding for bands accused of being involved in the resistance.
People living in those communities, with no involvement with the rebellion, were labelled “rebel Indians,” according to the FSIN.
Another 13 Saskatchewan communities were identified as rebel bands after 1885 and may also be eligible for payments.
Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation is about 90 kilometres north of Saskatoon.