To: Members of Muskowekwan First Nation
From: Chief and Council of Muskowekwan First Nation
Date: July 15, 2019
The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide membership with a brief factual overview of the four claims our First Nation is currently pursuing through the Specific Claims Process and the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench. Every month, Chief and Council will provide a detailed overview that focuses on one of the Claims discussed in this Bulletin. These regular updates will provide information on both the substance of the the Claims and their procedural status.
Treaty 4 Agricultural Benefits Claim (1874-Present)
Under the terms of Treaty 4, Canada made a series of promises to signatory bands, including the provision of the following "Agricultural Benefits": hoes, spades, ploughs, harrows, scythes, axes, cross-cut saw, hand saw, pit saw, necessary files, a grindstone and augers, a chest of ordinary carpenter's tools, wheat, barley, potatoes and oats, oxen, a bull, and cows. The Crown was also required to provide instruction in agriculture to assist in the transition to an agricultural economy. In failing to provide the full slate of Agricultural Benefits and assistance, Canada breached Treaty 4, as well as its fiduciary and honourable duties. This Claim will be submitted to the Specific Claims Branch in the coming months.
Railway Expropriation and Contamination Claim (1906)
In late 1905, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company (GTP) applied to the Department of Indian Affairs to construct its railway line through the Muskowekwan Reserve. By Order in Council dated May 12, 1906, 164.8 acres of the reserve were granted to the GTP for a right of way and station grounds. The Claim alleges the Crown breached its statutory and fiduciary duties to the First Nation in relation to the taking, and further that the Crown breached its fiduciary duty by allowing contamination of reserve lands. This Claim will be submitted to the Specific Claims Branch and filed in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench.
1910 and 1920 Surrender Claim
Before the GTP was granted a right of way, it had also applied to the Department of Indian Affairs to purchase 640 acres of the Muskowekwan Reserve for a townsite next to its station grounds. On March 7, 1910, Indian Agent William Murison obtained a surrender for sale of approximately 160 acres for a townsite. On October 14, 1920, Commissioner W.M. Graham obtained a second surrender for sale of the eastern three rows of sections of the reserve, totalling 7,485 acres. The Claim alleges the Crown failed to uphold its pre- and post-surrender statutory and fiduciary obligations to the First Nation in relation to both surrenders. This Claim will be filed in the Specific Claims Tribunal in the coming months.
Mismanagement of Trust Claim
The First Nations comprising the Touchwood Hills Agency - Muskowekwan, Day Star, George Gordon, and Kawacatoose - are advancing a specific claim against Canada for the mismanagement of trust funds held in account of the Touchwood Agency between 1920 and 1924. This Claim will be filed in the Specific Claims Tribunal in the coming months.
We hope you found this preliminary overview of assistance and look forward to providing ongoing Bulletins on these Claims in the coming weeks. Our legal counsel on these Claims, Maurice Law Barristers & Solicitors, will be attending a series of community meetings in December 2019 to provide in-person updates and answer your questions.