Specific Claims & Shxwhá:y Village
Shxwhá:y Village Indian Reserve #8 (also known as Chilliwack Mountain Reserve)Specific Claim –Questions and Answers
Chief and Council are committed to ensuring Shxwhá:y Village Members are fully informed about the Government of Canada’s proposed settlement offer in response to Shxwhá:y’s Indian Reserve #8 Specific Claim. All background information and details will be shared before we arrange a vote to see if Members accept this proposed settlement for the Indian Reserve #8 Specific Claim.
Canada has offered Shxwhá:y Village $10,837,648 as our share for the loss of Indian Reserve #8.
- What is a Specific Claim?
- A Specific Claim is legal claim made by a First Nation against the Government of Canada for a specific historic issue arising from the reserve creation process and the administration of reserve lands.
- Specific Claims are for specific issues vs. Comprehensive Claims or Treaty negotiations which are for the whole Territory.
- Most Specific Claims relate to historic failure by Indian Affairs to protect Indian Reserves.
- Indian Reserve #8 or IR#8 is the Chilliwack Mountain Reserve (also historically called the Shxwhá:y Mountain Reserve) currently held by Squiala First Nation as shown below:
- IR#8 was originally shared by a group of five First Nations including Shxwhá:y Village. The other four First Nations were removed and the Reserve is now only held by Squiala.
- The IR#8 Specific Claims was initially submitted on January 27, 2011 by Aitchelitz First Nation (“Aitchelitz”). Aitchelitz is one of the excluded First Nations.
- The IR#8 Specific Claim alleges that Canada breached its fiduciary duty in the management of IR#8 by failing to recognize that there were supposed to be five First Nations sharing IR#8.
- On October 30, 2015, Canada accepted Aitchelitz’s IR#8 Specific Claim for negotiations. Shxwhá:y Village and the other First Nations joined shortly afterwards.
- The Claimant First Nations in the IR#8 Specific Claim are a collective group of four (4) Stó:lō communities: Aitchelitz, Shxwhá:y Village, Kwaw-Kwaw-a-pilt and Skwah.
- Canada accepted the Claim as initially submitted by Aitchelitz, and the Claim started with negotiations between Canada and Aitchelitz in 2014. Council thanks Chief Angie Bailey and her Council at Aitchelitz for initiating the negotiations and then inviting the other First Nations to join.
- During the initial negotiations, the parties to negotiations (i.e. Canada and Aitchelitz) felt the Claim should be resolved with all of the excluded First Nations.
- In July 2019, Aitchelitz reached out to the other Sto:lo First Nations (Skwah, Kwaw-Kwaw-a-pilt and Shxwhá:y Village) to invite their participation in negotiations with Canada.
- The negotiations moved forward with the three (3) additional Sto:lo Claimant First Nations, Aitchelitz and Canada.
- Since Shxwhá:y Village joined negotiations in late 2019, additional information and evidence was tabled to inform the compensation position.
- At our December 18, 2020 negotiation session, Canada communicated they had a limited mandate. The First Nations worked together to provide more information about the elements that made up the IR#8. In addition to the Current Unimproved Market Value of the Lands, and compensation for Loss of Use, we brought forward evidence of former buildings on the site, nearby fishing, grave sites, spiritual uses of the land and the impacts of losing higher elevation land when so many of the other Reserves are in the flood plain.
- After many negotiations and some ‘lowball’ proposals from Canada, on January 4, 2021, Canada sent Shxwhá:y Village a global settlement offer. The offer to each First Nation is slightly different due to negotiation costs but all are over 5 million. To Shxwhá:y Village, Canada has offered $10,837,648 for the full and final settlement of the IR#8 Specific Claim. This offer of financial compensation includes a contribution towards legal, negotiation and ratification costs, as well as land acquisition, environmental assessment and survey costs.
- The Addition to Reserve (“ATR”) provisions will allow Shxwhá:y Village to purchase land with our Own Source Revenues (this could include the Settlement Funds) for possible addition to reserve.
- Canada’s Settlement Offer provides that Shxwhá:y Village may propose a future ATR request. Canada has stated that it will support Shxwhá:y Village, as part of the settlement, in applying for up to 24.32 acres of land. If Shxwhá:y Village moves forward with this, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations may add lands to reserve via ministerial order.
- The Addition to Reserve clauses in the draft settlement agreement would include the following conditions:
- (a) any costs to acquire lands or to have them added to the reserve (i.e. acquisition costs, survey costs, environmental site assessment costs, municipal tax losses, service agreement, etc.) will be the responsibility of the Shxwhá:y Village;
- (b) any ATR application will be subject to the ATR Policy applicable at the time of the ATR application.
- By Band Council Resolution dated January 12, 2021 quorum of Council passed a Resolution that:
- Shxwhá:y Village accepts the Settlement Offer in the amount of $10,837,648 for the IR 8 Specific Claim on the terms set out in Canada’s Settlement Offer Letter, subject to Council reviewing and approving the form of the proposed Settlement Agreement; and
- Shxwhá:y Village take steps to proceed with the ratification process to ratify the Settlement Agreement.
- Need for Ratification
- The Settlement Agreement can only be approved by Council if it is ratified by Band Members at a Ratification Vote.
- In order for the Settlement Agreement to be agreed to and authorized by Shxwhá:y Village, it must be ratified by Band Members at a Ratification Vote. The Settlement Agreement will require two conditions to be met for a successful Ratification:
- At least 25% plus one of the Voters vote in favour of the Settlement Agreement; and
- The “Yes” votes must exceed the “No” votes.
- For example, if there are 500 total eligible Voters:
- At least 126 Voters must vote in the referendum (25% + 1);
- At least 126 Voters must vote in favour of the Settlement Agreement;
- There must be a simple majority of “Yes” votes; and
- Assuming there may be some No votes, you will need more than a 126 voter turn-out: e.g. 126 in favour vs 20 against.
*Note that in light of COVID-19 the voting guidelines are flexible and provide by voting by email, vote and mail-in.
- Financial benefits to Shxwhá:y Village and collectively for Shxwhá:y Village members;
- Additional economic opportunities;
- Potential future Additions to Reserves to support community needs (e.g. future housing opportunities, new businesses and services);
- Reconciliation with Canada through resolution of this historical grievance; and
- Strengthened relationships with our Sto:lo neighbors.
Once the agreement is finalized, Shxwhá:y Village will be circulating additional information to Members about the proposedSettlement of the IR#8 Specific Claim as well as dates and times for an Information Meeting and the Ratification Vote.
A questions and answer period will be included in the meeting agenda and an information package will be mailed out in advance.