Chief Matthew T. Peigan of Pasqua First Nation. Photo supplied.

Five years later, Pasqua Chief reflects on land claim outcomes

Journalist Cole Cappo spoke with Chief Matthew T. Peigan about how things have been going for Pasqua First Nation since settling a major claim in 2018.

By Cole Cappo

Chief Matthew T. Peigan has been Chief of Pasqua First Nation since 2011. He also served as Chief for eight years from 1993 to 2001. He was employed with Qu’Appelle Child and Family Services from 2002 until 2008, and was lead negotiator for eight First Nations in the Qu’Appelle Valley from 2001 to 2010. His parents were Ronald and Grace Peigan, and he is the youngest of five children.

In 2018, Chief Peigan and past Pasqua Chiefs successfully concluded a conflict with Ottawa that stretched back over 100 years, involving unlawfully surrendered lands. Journalist Cole Cappo asked the Chief how management of the settlement has unfolded over the past five years. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Cole Cappo: What type of claim did your nation settle? What makes it different from TLE and other types of claims?

Chief Peigan: In 1995 Pasqua First Nation settled its Treaty Four Claim with 33 other First Nations that entered into Treaty 4, then the Pasqua Treaty Land Entitlement in 2008, the Pasqua Flood Claim in 2013, and the Pasqua 1906 Surrender Claim in 2018. Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) claim pertains to lands that a First Nation didn’t receive when the Date of First Survey (DOFS) was first established,  surveying lands for the First Nation. The settlement proceeds from TLE are used to buy those lands that the First Nation was shorted when the DOFS was completed.

What we call Specific Land Claims pertain to certain lands a First Nation lost through illegal surrenders obtained by unscrupulous Indian and Northern Affairs persons. The settlement compensation of Specific Claims usually take into: funds to purchase the equivalent amount of land lost through an illegal surrender and compensation for loss of use. So Specific Land Claim settlements are usually considerably higher than a TLE settlement.

Cole Cappo: What specifics can you share about your claim, and what did your nation have to concede, if anything?

Chief Peigan: Pasqua First Nation settled its 1906 Specific Land Claim in 2018 pertaining to the illegal surrender of 16,077 acres. The settlement amount was $145 million. This included loss of use of the surrendered lands compensation that the First Nation could have generated its own revenue if the lands were not surrendered. The settlement amount also allowed for the First Nation to purchase up to 16,077 acres. These acres, when purchased, can be added to the First Nation’s reserve land base through Canada’s Addition to Reserve Policy (ADR).

“The excitement builds from when you first file your land claim…”


Cole Cappo: What part about settling the 1906 land claim was the best part about it?

Chief Peigan: The excitement builds from when you first file your land claim with Specific Claims Ottawa. In doing so, you have to develop a strategy on how you intend to get Canada to accept your claim for negotiations. The strategy identifies the lobbying effort, who are the key individuals within government and Specific Claims and your action plan from the proceeds of the settlement. The benefits of your strategy comes when Canada sends the First Nation a letter accepting to negotiate.

Cole Cappo: Who was involved in the settlement? 

Chief Peigan: Pasqua First Nation identified every lands and governance department within Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), from ISC regional offices right to the associate deputy minister’s office in Ottawa. The action plan from the settlement proceeds was shared and this formed the basis of discussion going forward. By Canada accepting Pasqua’s 1906 Specific Claim for negotiations and settlement, it means Canada is working with the development of the Pasqua First Nation.

Cole Cappo: Regarding per capita distribution (PCD) payments to band members, several First Nations throughout the Qu’Appelle area have distributed per capita payments, such as Cote, Pasqua, and now Muscowpetung. What is the significance of the membership receiving PCD funds? How and why did it come to be, and how is the amount of payout decided?  

Chief Peigan: Per Capita Distribution (PCD) payments to membership helps members to acquire things they usually can’t purchase due to financial constraints. PCDs vary depending on the future planning by leadership.

Cole Cappo: How do the funds go back into the economy?

Chief Peigan:  Pasqua’s Settlement Trust protects the settlement proceeds. The First Nation can use them through low interest loans with its financial trustee, (up to) an equivalent of 60 percent of the trust value. The loans Pasqua obtains have to be approved by the trustee and cannot be in violation of the terms of the trust. Loans pertain to land purchases and economic development.

Every year the trust distributes to the First Nation four percent of the trust value. The investments earned over and above the four percent throughout the year are properties of the trust and cannot be used by leadership. The investment proceeds are deposited into the trust. Pasqua’s trustee is CIBC. This means CIBC has an obligation to the citizens of Pasqua to protect the trust.

Cole Cappo: Are there any challenges of negative social issues arising when people receive PCD payments?

Chief Peigan: When Pasqua provided their members with their PCD, there weren’t any real negative social issues reported to leadership. Basically, Pasqua members mostly did positive and prudent purchases with their PCD.

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