Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller has issued an apology on behalf of the federal government to a Saskatchewan First Nation for a “radical social engineering experiment” that forced a farming colony onto community land.
“The historic harm caused by the colony’s plan goes far beyond the transfer of choice lands. It has created divisions in the community,” Miller said in the Cree Nation of Peepeekisis in southeast Saskatchewan on Wednesday.
The First Nation was home to the File Hills Settlement, which is a little-recognized part of Canada’s residential school history.
The settlement was established in 1897 by the local Indian agent and continued until 1954. Under this program, graduates of residential schools in Manitoba and elsewhere in Saskatchewan were transferred to the lands of the Nation cries without the consent of the community and often under pressure.
Miller says Canada’s actions breached its fiduciary duty to Peepeekisis and failed to protect the nation’s interests in the territory.
“For this, we are deeply sorry,” said Miller, who also spoke in Cree.
The actions also resulted in a loss of culture, Miller added. The Indian Agent restricted access to the land, limited home visits, and banned pow-wows, dances, and other ceremonies.
Last year, the First Nation agreed to a $150 million federal settlement and the option to add more reserve land.
Peepeekisis chief Francis Dieter said the settlement had caused damage, trauma and disruption to the way of life of community members.
This displaced Peepeekisis residents from their own lands and also forced residency graduates from their home communities and nations, Dieter added.
“The File Hills Colony Scheme has left a divisive legacy,” Dieter said in a press release.
“However, with the recent settlement and acknowledgment of its wrongdoings, Canada’s apology to our nation and our people can allow us to move forward on the path to healing our nation and becoming one people of Peepeekisis. .
– Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press