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Federal government reaches $59M settlement with B.C. First Nation over land seizure

Chief of the Matsqui Nation Alice McKay addresses the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Gary Anandasangaree, during a news conference announcing a settlement that addresses a historical wrong on the Matsqui First Nation in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns Chief of the Matsqui Nation Alice McKay addresses the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Gary Anandasangaree, during a news conference announcing a settlement that addresses a historical wrong on the Matsqui First Nation in Abbotsford, B.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns
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Abbotsford, B.C. -

The federal government has reached a $59-million settlement with a First Nation in British Columbia for compensation over allowing a right-of-way to be built through its reserve more than 110 years ago.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree and Matsqui First Nation Chief Alice McKay jointly announced the settlement, compensating for the federal government's taking of land in 1908 for the Vancouver Power Company right-of-way.

The federal government says construction of the corridor effectively severed access to some reserve lands on the Sahhacum Indian Reserve 1 and Matsqui Main Indian Reserve 2.

A government statement says Canada was supposed to make sure crossings were built and maintained on the right-of-way, but it didn't keep that agreement and the nation's access to its reserve lands was cut off.

Anandasangaree says in the statement that the resolution reflects the federal government's “desire to do better” in addressing its past treatment of First Nations.

The statement says proper compensation for “decades of colonial policies” is fundamental to rebuild trust with Indigenous communities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

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