Pine Creek First Nation reaches $200 million treaty settlement

A Manitoba First Nation may soon see a massive financial windfall that would see the community receive more than $200,000,000 from the federal government, and every band member receive a $30,000 payout, because of a promise made more than a century ago that was never kept.

On Wednesday, Pine Creek First Nation (PCFN) Chief Derek Nepinak and the community’s band council announced they have come to an agreement with the feds over what is commonly referred to as a “cows and plows” claim.

PCFN is part of Treaty #4 and according to the federal government when the Treaty was originally signed back in 1874, the federal government promised to supply agricultural equipment and livestock to families and individuals to assist them in adjusting to an agricultural-based economy and society.

The federal government now admits that they did not supply the agricultural equipment and livestock that was promised in Treaties including Treaty 4, and is now working to compensate communities with financial settlements adjusted to today’s currency in several First Nations in Canada.

“The Crown is not offering us oxen, or cattle, or farming tools,” Nepinak said. “The Crown is instead offering financial instruments of exchange so that we can decide for us what works best for us in today’s economic realities.”

In 2019, PCFN became the first Manitoba First Nation to file a “cows and plows” claim, and the federal government later agreed to work with the community to seek a negotiated settlement.

On Wednesday, Nepinak announced that a settlement of $205,519,700 has been reached, and said that as part of the settlement, every member of the First Nation who lives both on and off reserve would receive a one-time payout of $30,000. The community’s current membership is estimated at approximately 3,545 band members.

As part of the agreement, all PCFN youth would also receive the $30,000, but the money would be put into a trust they could not access until they are 18 years old.

PCFN band members will vote on the settlement on Dec. 1 and they will also vote to decide how much of the settlement that doesn’t go to individuals will be deposited into a trust fund.

PCFN said the community hopes to retain some of the money that doesn’t go to band members for “future education and business opportunities.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun