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Roseau River First Nation Nets $80 Million for Land Claim

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation is finally compensated with $80 million for the 1903 Surrender, in which the Canadian government forced the band to give up 12 sections, or 60 percent, of its reserve land to settlers.
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Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation has received $80 million in compensation for the 1903 loss of 60 percent of its land, when the Canadian government forced the band to open up 7,700 acres of its reserve land to farmers and settlers.

The Ojibway-speaking band from southern Manitoba voted in favor of the negotiated settlement in February. The agreement was finalized last week, and the money deposited in the band’s bank account on Friday July 29—coincidentally, Chief Terrance Nelson’s birthday, he told QMI Agency.

“This is a historic day, a day when a longstanding injustice has been addressed,” Nelson said in a statement from the ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAND). “For over one hundred years this injustice has plagued our people.”

Each of the band’s 1,500 adult members gets $5,000 on Wednesday August 3, Nelson told QMI. Minors’ funds will go into trust accounts that they can access once they turn 18. The rest, $61.6 million, goes into a community endowment fund, and the interest from that will be used for public band projects.

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Housing is one of the first issues that will be addressed, with a “full-blown housing program” that will help band members buy homes, Nelson told the Winnipeg Free Press.

"We really want to get out of the Indian Act system," he said, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. "We want individual rights and individual responsibilities and to be moving away from a public housing system."

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation is also authorized to use some of the settlement funds to buy up to 7,952 acres of land and request reserve status for it, AAND said, and has 30 years to do so.

The agreement is compensation that Roseau River is due for the 1903 Surrender, when the band was forced to relinquish 12 sections of its reserve. Roseau River filed its claim in 1982, Nelson noted in the AAND statement.

The reserve lies about 50 miles south of Winnipeg and has about 2,325 members, AAND said in its release. It is one of the 446 land-claims cases that AAND has resolved since 2007, the federal agency said.