Lanny Ahenakew, Ahtahkakoop TLE Coordinator, says the Nation has run into difficulties purchasing shortfall acres. Photo: Belinda Nelson

Ahtahkakoop’s interest in Fur Lakes raises contention once again

By Belinda Nelson

Ahtahkakoop must face off with third party interests, rather than the province, when it comes to purchasing Crown lands in the Fur Lakes area.

“The most difficult aspect in acquiring shortfall acres in particular is land owned by the Crown with third party interests.” says Lanny Ahenakew, Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) coordinator for Ahtahkakoop.

Crown land in the planning area is either vacant or leased to individuals primarily for livestock grazing, according to the existing 1998 Fur Lakes Land and Resource Management Plan.

In 2021, Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan settled a $43.3 million TLE claim.

Twenty years of research, collaboration and negotiations proved there was a shortfall of 4,115.2 acres at the time the reserve was surveyed.

Ahtahkakoop must use these settlement monies to purchase the shortfall acres they were initially entitled to.

However, when the First Nation tried to purchase 6,640 acres of Crown land in Fur Lakes, their offer was refused. 

This is not the first time the Fur Lakes Crown lands have been sought out.

In 2012, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation tried to negotiate for the Crown lands in this area.

They were turned down. 

A letter written by “concerned citizens” opposed the sale to Ahtahkakoop, arguing the province had not properly consulted them.

The letter-writers stated a land management plan was already created by six provincial government ministries and eight stakeholder groups in 1998.

Despite the land bordering Ahtahkakoop and Mistawasis, neither nation was included nor were they referenced in the aforementioned Fur Lakes Land and Resource Management Plan.

“It is unfortunate that the Government is proceeding in this manner, without any notification to adjacent residents and to the general public who use this pristine park-like area to enjoy nature at its untouched finest,” the unsigned letter said. “These lands need to stay under the protection of public domain not only to ensure their protection but also to provide access to these lands and lakes for all citizens of Saskatchewan to enjoy for generations to come.”

The interest in Fur Lake for both Ahtahkakoop and Mistawasis Nations is one rooted in history.

According to both the written and oral history, the land was their traditional territory, prior to confederation.

During the signing of Treaty 6, Chief Ahtahkakoop and Chief Mistawasis who were relatives, had assumed their reserves would be adjoined, but that didn’t happen.

The Fur Lakes land lies between both communities, which is why both Nations have a vested interest in the land.  

The Fur Lakes region in question borders Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation.
Source: Fur Lakes Land and Resource Management Plan, 1998

Fur Lakes Land and Resource Management Plan (RM of Canwood website)

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