Tanisi and Anin Sikwa!
On behalf of your Council, I am pleased to provide this update.
There has been much discussion amongst membership regarding Cowessess’ specific claims; in particular the 1907 Land Surrender and the Agriculture Benefits (Cows and Ploughs). An update was given during the State of the Nation (10/25/23) however your Council is always pleased to relay more information as requested.
The 1907 Land Surrender Claim is currently the specific claim that our newly elected governance table has been concentrating on. We are in an excellent but sensitive part of the negotiations with Canada. However, we are confident we will be able to share more specific details regarding this claim by the end of January 2024. We can share that we are actively preparing for the conclusion and final settlement within a 24-month period. When we receive the letter from Canada with the final settlement amount, we will be bringing that settlement number as well as several options for both individual and Nation benefits. It will be the membership that will decide if Cowessess accepts the amount from Canada as well as voting on the options for benefits, including consideration of individual payouts.
In terms of submitting and then negotiating the Agricultural Benefits (Cows and Ploughs) Cowessess has not formally sent the government a statement of claim to date. It was decided by the last Council to wait until the 1907 was near completion before considering a submission. Your current Council has been governing for almost 7 months and we believe it is now time for our Nation to consider our Agricultural Benefits submission of claim and move it forward to the Specific Claims process if this is what our membership decides. Currently, we have decided to engage with a treaty lawyer to give a legal opinion on the potential impact to Treaty. Once we are able to provide an analysis regarding this specific claim, we will be talking with our Seniors/Elders, past leadership as well as providing opportunity for all membership to contemplate and to guide us as to whether to submit our letter of intent. We are prioritizing this process and will be going to membership within the next couple of months.
Finally, your current Council recognizes and honours all the incredible hard work our past leaders and Knowledge Keepers have dedicated to our specific claims process; most notably our current 1907 specific claim which has been contemplated and moved forward for well over 30 years. For all future claims Cowessess submits, we are committed to ensuring that we give the best information possible to our members so we all can make a good decision with both an Indigenous and western worldview for not only today but for the future of Cowessess – our children and grandchildren.
Stay tuned! We will ensure that we communicate with the membership every time we have movement on our specific claims and other files.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we move through these processes and complete these claims.
Hiy hiy and Chi-miigwetch,
Chief Erica Beaudin