It too more than 100 years of waiting, but members of the Katlodeeche First Nation finally got to see their treaty with the federal government honoured.
On July 12, community members voted that each member would receive a $30,000 pay-out from the “cows and plows” money that was awarded as part of a settlement with the federal government in 2017.
“Everyone is happy with the payout,” said Chief April Martel.
The $28.3-million 'cows and plows' settlement was reached to satisfy unfulfilled promises made in Treaty 8, which stipulated the federal government would provide “cows and plows” to signatories that wanted start farming.
The community has been trying to decide how to share the money ever since. There was always a desire to retain some of the money for future education and business opportunities, but there were differing opinions on how much should end up directly in the pockets of band members.
The July 12 vote had three options: 1) each member gets $30,000 and with the remaining money being put in a community trust for 10 years; 2) each member gets $27,000 and with the remaining money is put in a community trust for five years; 3) each member gets $24,000 with the remaining money being available to be spent right away.
In the end the community voted overwhelmingly for the first option, with 302 votes in favour. The other two options received 12 and two votes respectively.
The payout was a few weeks ago.
“It's been so quiet on the reserve. It's so nice,” she said. “A lot of people are buying stuff, fixing up their house, paying off lots of debt. A lot of kids are putting money away and some are travelling,” she said.
While band members are happy with the outcome, work will now turn towards how the remaining money will be managed in trust.
Martel said most of the money will end up in a trust with a small amount left over to help pay for immediate needs related to education.
“Right now, we give $350 per semester for people for school but if they need more for book supplies and that we can help as well.”
She said the fund will also be able to help people who want to start their own businesses.
“If anyone wants to start farming, they can access that money,”
Martel said a committee is being set up in order to find out the best way to manage the trust.
“We have to look for someone that will take care of that trust money,” she said. “There's still lots of do to with the trust.”