Okanagan Indian Band, British Columbia – Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Today, Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada and the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) have reached an innovative agreement whereby Canada will make an advance payment of $30 million to the Band to be applied against the anticipated settlement of the Colonial Reserve IR 1 Specific Claim.
This advance payment can be used by OKIB with its purchase of the O’Keefe Range Lands, which are located within the claim area, adjacent to Okanagan IR 1, and in the City of Vernon. Expanding their lands will support the community as they advance their vision of self-determination.
Canada and OKIB have been in negotiations to resolve Colonial Reserve IR 1 Specific Claim for 11 years, and will continue working in partnership to achieve a final settlement as soon as possible. This specific claim addresses disputed lands OKIB asserts were allocated to it in 1861 under the instruction of Governor Douglas, but were then reduced in size by the colonial government of British Columbia in 1865, without consulting the community.
This is the first time the Government of Canada has made an advance payment to a First Nation community to be applied against an anticipated specific claim settlement. We will continue working with First Nations to find and implement innovative solutions like this one, including the development of a fuller framework for advance payments. These solutions will help reduce delays and barriers that First Nations face during the specific claims process, so Canada can live up to its obligations as a Treaty partner and address historical wrongs.