Federal Court rules in favour of Blood Tribe in historic land dispute

A Federal Court judge has ruled the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta is entitled to more land.

In a judgement released Wednesday, the court said Canada failed to live up to its land entitlement provisions in the Blackfoot Treaty of 1877, more commonly known as Treaty 7.

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That treaty said the Blood Tribe was entitled to a reserve equal to more than 1,100 square kilometres, but the tribe’s current land area only encompasses about 881 square kilometres.

“Canada is liable to the Blood Tribe for this breach of treaty,” wrote Judge Russel W. Zinn in the conclusion of his judgement.

In its land claim, which dates back to 1980, the Blood Tribe said Canada failed to fulfill its obligation to provide 1.6 square kilometres of land for every five band members.

The Blood Tribe had also sought to have its southern boundary stretch to the U.S. border and east to the St. Mary River, as well as west towards the mountains. The court denied that part of their claim.

In its ruling, the court said it will be arranging a trial management conference to address how the Blood Tribe will be compensated.

Ottawa has 30 days to decide if it will appeal the court’s decision.

“The Blood Tribe trusts that given the history of the Big Claim, and the fact that both the ICC (Indian Claims Commission) and the Federal Court have found that the Blood Tribe has a valid claim, that Canada will not be appealing this recent judgement and that there will be finality to this long outstanding treaty obligation,” the tribe said in a news release.

Band officials were not granting media interviews on Wednesday.

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