The surrender of our land at Fort George IR#1 remains an injustice that more than 100 years later still requires resolution. Although the Final Agreement reconciles many issues between Lheidli T’enneh and the governments of British Columbia and Canada, this remains an important, unanswered claim not addressed by the Agreement. The Final Agreement does not affect our Specific Claim and continuing effort to right this historic wrong.
What is Fort George IR#1 and why is it important?
Fort George IR#1 was a Reserve that included a Lheidli T’enneh village site. Located at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, our village was well-placed and was known for its prosperous fishing.
The property was transferred on Nov. 18, 1911 and Lheidli T’enneh residing there had seven months to leave. Part of the land was used by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway to build rail lines and a station. Other parts were resold as lots by the company at great profit. These Reserve lands, totalling almost 1,400 acres from which the city of Prince George grew, were worth far more than what Lheidli T’enneh were paid for them.
Although not all agreed with the decision to sell, our people were relocated by the government and any who remained saw their homes destroyed by fire, forcing them to move.
Today, a cemetery is all that remains of our settlement.
If we accept the Final Agreement do we give up Lheidli T’enneh’s claim to Fort George IR#1?
No. This is a Specific Claim and it comes under a different government policy set up to deal with past wrongs by Canada related to Indian Reserves. There is nothing in the Final Agreement that will in any way undermine our claim against Canada. In fact, the Final Agreement specifically states that it will not affect Lheidli T’enneh’s Fort George IR#1 claim.
What are Specific Claims?
Specific Claims are claims that First Nations make against the Government of Canada. They often deal with past wrongs against First Nations and commonly involve Canada’s obligations under historic treaties or with the way it managed First Nation funds or assets.
What has happened with our Specific Claim so far?
We have sought compensation from the Government of Canada for this past injustice and have attempted to resolve the issue through negotiations as part of the Specific Claims process. Canada has since rejected Lheidli T’enneh’s Specific Claim request but we will continue to pursue this matter in court.
Would any future Specific Claims be affected by the Final Agreement?
It is very unlikely that the Final Agreement would affect any Specific Claims we may make in the future.