George Gordon First Nation Treaty Land Entitlement Settlement


On September 17, 2009, the George Gordon First Nation settled a Treaty Land Entitlement claim with the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan. The specific claim was based on a shortfall of entitlement lands due to additions to the band membership after the date of the first survey.
Treaty Land Entitlement claims originate from historic treaties between the Government of Canada and First Nations. These treaties, sometimes referred to as numbered treaties, were signed between 1871 and 1921 and extend throughout the prairie provinces, as well as some parts of BC, Ontario, the NWT and Yukon. The newly formed Confederation of Canada needed land for its settlers. Consequently, treaties were made to allocate reserve lands, hunting and fishing rights and occasionally money to First Nations.
There were 11 treaties in total. The George Gordon First Nation specific claim stems from Treaty # 4, which they entered into on September 15,1874. This treaty came at a time when life was more difficult for First Nations people as the buffalo were becoming more scarce. By this point, the First Nations involved in this treaty were beginning to see that their nomadic way of life was soon to end and that it was important that they claim land that could be used for farming and ranching.
For some of the numbered treaties, including Treaty # 4, the initial formula for determining how much reserve land a First Nation would receive was one square mile for a family of five. The problem was the treaties did not explain how to calculate the size of the population. For example, it was not clear whether the surveyor was supposed to use the population count of the First Nation at the time of the treaty or at the time of the survey. As well, when the surveyors arrived to designate reserve lands, they would often find that people were away visiting another band or hunting.
The settlement agreement reached between the George Gordon First Nation and the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan included a cash compensation for land and minerals of approximately $26.6 million, along with costs associated with negotiations. The First Nation has been authorized to buy up to 115,712 acres to be added to their reserve.