Mimikwas Ācikahtê, left, and Cowessess Chief Erica Beaudin, right. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Under the Cowessess Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) Settlement Agreement, nearly 322 hectares (approximately 795 acres) of Crown mineral rights will be transferred to Cowessess First Nation upon the surface attaining reserve status. This is part of the province’s continued commitment to the TLE settlement agreements, the provincial government said in an Aug. 10 release.

“Treaty land entitlement agreements are vital to fulfilling federal and provincial Treaty obligations of restoring land to First Nation communities,” Minister responsible for First Nations, Métis Relations and Northern Affairs Don McMorris said. “These agreements continue to build upon our shared goal of economic reconciliation and growth for Saskatchewan.”

With the acquisition of new reserve lands, successful TLE agreements support community growth and traditional land use, the release said. The TLE process exists because many First Nations did not receive the land that was promised to them by Canada under the historical Treaties. Under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, 1930, Saskatchewan has a constitutional obligation to assist the federal government with this promise.

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The TLE Agreements provide First Nations with entitlement monies to purchase land anywhere in the province on a “willing buyer-willing seller” basis and add it to their reserves. Under the terms of the TLE Agreement, all undisposed provincial Crown minerals underlying lands purchased by the First Nation are to be transferred to the Government of Canada for purposes of reserve creation at no cost.

Since 1992, the provincial and federal governments have committed $687 million for TLE settlements in Saskatchewan. To date, approximately 887,924 acres have been transferred, with 1.478 million acres outstanding. Of the amount transferred to the reserve, more than 779,530 acres of undisposed Crown minerals were transferred at no cost.

The Ministry of Government Relations coordinates and manages the provincial implementation of the TLE agreements between Canada, Saskatchewan and 36 First Nations. Most recent were three TLE agreements finalized with Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Mistawasis Nêhiyawak and Zagimē Anishinabēk in 2022. Two additional First Nations are currently in negotiations for a TLE agreement with the province at this time.

Saskatchewan has transferred more acres to reserve status under our TLE agreements than any other province in Canada.

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