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Indigenous land claim stretching back to Halifax Explosion settled

Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade.
Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade. - SaltWire Network

First Nations residents in both Millbrook and Indian Brook have voted in favour of a proposed agreement to settle an "invalid" 100-year-old Halifax land claim issue.

“This is huge,” Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade said Friday, following the voting process that took place Thursday night.

“Personally, I feel relieved and pleased with the outcome. We have been able to accomplish a huge win for our communities that honours the intentions of our ancestors from 1919.”

The proposed agreement, recently achieved with federal government negotiators and which has been in the works for more than 20 years, is to settle a land claim related to the loss in 1919 - following the Halifax Explosion - of three parcels of land totaling 508 hectares, known as the Ingrams River, Sambro and Ship Harbour reserves.

“When they got displaced, our community members were displaced and the two reserves (in Indian Brook and Millbrook) were created,” Gloade said.

“They surrendered those three parcels of land and wanted to exchange them for land closer to HRM. That was never honoured by the government of Canada, and that’s why it was called the invalid surrender of 1919.”

The negotiated agreement involves a cash settlement of just over $49.2 million. Of that, Millbrook is to receive compensation of $19.3 million and the Sipekne'katik band in Indian Brook is to receive $27.8 million.

An additional sum of just over $2 million has been added to the settlement and will be withheld by the federal government as full and final repayment of outstanding loans incurred by the First Nations to negotiate the 1919 Halifax County claim.

The agreement also includes a provision that will allow both the Millbrook and Sipekne'katik bands to purchase lands, equivalent to the 508 total hectares lost in 1919, that can then be added to each reserve's land base. That  amounts to 210 hectares of land for Millbrook and 302 for the Sipekne'katik band.

“This has been a concern for the past 100 years and bringing closure and the ability to have our current council and community members begin the planning and development to benefit our community recreationally, communal and economically is a good step forward,” Gloade said.

Michael Sack, chief of the Sipekne'katik band, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Of the cash portion of the settlement, each member of both bands, both on reserve and off, will receive $3,000. Minors will have their portions placed into trust accounts until they come of age.

The remaining funds, to be used to purchase the replacement lands, will be held in trust until the band councils determine how they are to be dispersed, Gloade said.

“It doesn’t have to be done immediately,” he said, adding there have been no restrictions placed on the timeline for the purchase of the non-reserve lands, their location (other than it must be in Nova Scotia), or the size of land parcels.


Vote tallies

Millbrook
1,483 eligible voters
899 voters participated

795 voted in favour
100 voted against
4 rejected ballots

Indian Brook
2,076 eligible voters
1,079 voters participated

849 voted in favour
223 voted against
4 rejected ballots
 

RELATED: 1919 Halifax reserve revocation may be righted in $49 million deal

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