The Matsqui First Nations community centre building. (Stan Morgan photo.)

B.C. First Nation makes claim for sale of reserve lands 150 years ago

More than 99 per cent of reserve land sold to settlers with compensation, according to claim

The Matsqui First Nation have filed a claim against the federal government for the sale of almost their entire reservation land over 150 years ago by the Colony of British Columbia.

The claim states 99 per cent of the 9,600 acres administered to the Matsqui by the colonial government in 1864 was sold out from under them to incoming settlers in the Fraser Valley.

The claim is being made under Canada’s Specific Claim Policy which states that Indigenous bands who historically suffered under colonial government treaty breaches are entitled to compensation from today’s federal government.

“The reconciliation of this claim has been a priority for Matsqui for many years,” said Chief Alice McKay. “Resolving historical grievances with Matsqui is critical to renewing our relationship with Canada and advancing reconciliation.”

The history of the 9,600 acre sale goes back to Joseph Trutch’s role as chief commissioner of lands in the 1860’s. Trutch ignored the previously established land treaties and allowed Indigenous reserves to be downsized and sold off to settlers.

Only a tiny piece of the original reserve exists today at the north end of Abbotsford along the Fraser River.

“This is not about coming after private property owners for the lands, or about displacing people from the City of Abbotsford,” said Matsqui Coun. Brenda Morgan. “This is about truth-seeking and justice for our people. We want closure on this matter so our people can heal and we can all progress together in this great region we all call home.”

McKay said the claim has been worked on for over a decade she expects it to take three years before being resolved.


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