79 Acre Claim
Over the past years, the Snuneymuxw Chief and Council have been working hard to finalize drafting of the settlement agreement with Canada and drafting of our own trust agreement. Much progress is being made which will enable us to bring these documents to the members for a ratification vote on November 12, 2016.
For the ratification vote to pass, we need a majority of our eligible members to vote (there are over 1200 eligible voting age members) and of those that vote, we need a majority to vote YES to ratify the agreements.
The Snuneymuxw First Nation has been actively pursuing settlement with Canada for the loss of a 79-acre Indian Reserve that used to be located along Stewart Avenue in Nanaimo across from Newcastle Island. The wrongful taking of the Indian Reserve happened in the 1880s. Elders of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, late Chester Thomas in particular, pressed the Snuneymuxw Government to address this loss. The Specific Claim was submitted in 1993 by late Chief Robert Thomas. Canada accepted the Specific Claim as valid, and offered to enter into negotiations in 2003.
These negotiations resulted in the settlement offer made by Canada in the summer of 2014. The Settlement Offer amounts to a total settlement amount of $49,148,121. Since 2003, negotiation costs for legal counsel and for the negotiations team cost $1,155,655. This was added to the settlement amount. Therefore, the net settlement amount under the 2014 offer is $47,992,466. Snuneymuxw Chief and Council accepted this amount last year.
If the agreement is ratified by the members, a significant portion of the settlement will be distributed to members directly. We also established a community trust working group to help structure a trust for a portion of the settlement money, including establishing purposes for the trust that reflect views gathered from the members by the working group. SFN Members need to be the age of majority(19) to receive the Per Capita Distribution.
One important outstanding issue we are working urgently to address with Canada is the issue of replacement lands – both the amount and location. The DND lands adjacent to Vancouver Island University have always been part of the discussion with Canada to fulfill this purpose and we are working to confirm Canada’s commitment to make these lands available to us.
Finally, we wish to acknowledge and express gratitude and respect to former leaders and members of the community who have worked so diligently to bring our Nation to this point – this settlement has transformative potential for Snuneymuxw to overcome the loss of this critical 79 acres of Indian Reserve land in downtown Nanaimo.
Here are some Quick Facts:
- There will be 5 Community Trustee’s who will manage the trust.
- Initially, the Community Trustee’s will be appointed by Chief and Council and starting in December 2017 membership will elect some of the Community Trustee’s.
- There will be one Administrative Trustee who is the gatekeeper of the trust, who will oversee the Community Trustee’s, and who responsible for implementing the terms of the Trust Agreement.
- In the event of a distribution to membership, the distribution may be recorded as a “one-time award” or “compensation”.
- To achieve a Yes-Vote, approximately 650 Snuneymuxw members need to cast a ballot and 50% plus 1 (326 votes) are required to vote yes.
- If a Yes-Vote is achieved, Canada is obligated to transfer the settlement funds to the trust account 45 days after receiving the referendum results.
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