Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Compensation stalled for Pasqua Nation

40-year-old claim settled last year

By Kerry Benjoe, The Leader-Post

The money has yet to flow to First Nations on the Qu'Appelle Lakes chain, despite the fact the 40-year-old flood claim was settled last year.

"It's frustrating," said Chief Todd Peigan of the Pasqua First Nation.

In September, the members of the First Nation voted to accept the federal government's $20.6-million settlement package.

Peigan had hoped the money would be made available by the end of 2013, but six months after signing the deal, Pasqua has yet to receive any money.

The flood claim dates back to the early 1940s, when the federal Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration built dams to raise the level of the lakes to help farmers. But the structures were built on First Nations' land without their permission, and they were never compensated for land they lost when the lake levels rose.

In 1979, the af fected First Nations formed the Qu'Appelle Valley Indian Development Authority (QVIDA) to press their claims.

In 1998, the Indian Claims Commission recommended the federal government either remove the structures or begin negotiations to obtain the lands affected by the flooding and that First Nations be compensated for past flood damage.

In October 2012, Muscowpetung First Nation agreed to accept a $30.6-million settlement, but the finalization of that deal was dependent on Pasqua members agreeing to accept its settlement - which happened in September.

However, both First Nations have yet to see any of the compensation dollars.

The lack of movement on the file from the federal government is costing Pasqua money, said Peigan.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) was contacted Wednesday and Thursday but was also unable to provide an update on the file. In September, the First Nation took out a $3-million loan to cover the one-time per capita payments to its members.

Peigan negotiated the loan, believing the settlement payment would happen by the year's end, and the interest on that loan would not kick in until Feb. 1, 2014.

The First Nation is now on the hook for about $20,000 each month in interest payments.

He also estimates Pasqua has lost out on about $200,000 in interest on the remaining $16 million of the settlement, which was to be placed in trust.

Peigan has not been sitting back and waiting for answers.

He met with the AANDC minister in November and has been calling the minister's office weekly.

Peigan has also been in contact with Conservative MP Andrew Scheer for Regina-Qu'Appelle to help him find answers, but has heard nothing as of yet.

Scheer was en route to Regina from Ottawa on Thursday and unable to comment.

Sakimay First Nation and Cowessess First Nation were also involved in the flood claim and were compensated in 2012.

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