A multi-million dollar land claims award has been reached for Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head Lean Man First Nation.
The First Nation has been awarded $126,933,972 in compensation from the federal government, in a decision that came down from the Specific Claims Tribunal on Jan. 18.
The compensation is as a result of “breach of Crown fiduciary duty arising in 1905 out of a surrender of lands from Indian Reserve No. 110/111 (IR 110/111)” according to the decision of the Specific Claims Tribunal.
The surrendered land consists of a parcel of 14,670-acres, or approximately two-thirds of the reserve. The ruling notes the federal government had admitted it breached its fiduciary obligation to the Mosquito reserve that rendered the 1905 surrender invalid.
According to the decision from Hon. Harry Slade, where “reserve land is affected by an invalid surrender, section 20(1)(g) of the SCTA requires that the Tribunal award compensation equal to the current unimproved market value (CUMV) of the subject lands. The Tribunal must also, under section 20(1)(h) of the SCTA, award compensation equal to the value of the loss of use (LOU) of the lands, brought forward to the present value of the loss.”
The ruling notes that evidence introduced in the compensation phase of the proceeding reveals the Crown took a surrender vote in contravention of a statutory requirement that permitted only members of the Grizzly Bear’s Head and Lean Man Bands to vote. “This was, from the outset, a breach of the duty of ordinary prudence.”
The decision noted the breach “occurred within a Treaty relationship, with respect to a Treaty reserve, and the breach led directly to the permanent alienation of Treaty reserve land from the Claimant.”
The settlement award consists of $15,500,000 in current unimproved market value, and $111,433,972 in equitable compensation/loss of use, for the combined final amount of $126,933,972.
The land claim award decision had been in the works for some time, with the federal government admitting to breaching its fiduciary duty in 2017. The Maurice Law Firm out of Calgary had been representing the Mosquito band throughout the legal proceedings.