April 6, 2023
To Band Members of Tsideldel:
Specific Claims Update: Puntzi Lake Fishing Camps
Tŝideldel Chief and Council is pleased to announce to membership that our Puntzi Lake Fishing Camps specific claim has been accepted for negotiations by Canada. The negotiated resolution and settlement of this specific claim will address Canada’s failure to protect two of Tŝideldel’s fishing camps on Puntzi Lake during the reserve creation period—one on the western shore of Puntzi Lake next to Puntzi Creek, and one on the eastern shore of Puntzi Lake.
What are specific claims?
Specific claims are legal claims brought by First Nations against Canada for historic grievances related to Canada’s administration of reserve lands and other assets. Specific claims are separate and distinct from, and do not impact claims for, Aboriginal rights and title.
How are specific claims resolved?
Canada’s Specific Claims Policy sets out the process to develop and file specific claims. First Nations are responsible for researching and developing their own specific claims and filing them with Canada. If Canada accepts the allegations set out in the specific claim, Canada will invite the First Nation to negotiate a resolution. If Canada rejects the allegations set out in the specific claim, the First Nation can resubmit the specific claim with new legal arguments and/or evidence or bring the specific claim to the Specific Claims Tribunal for a binding adjudicated decision.
Puntzi Lake Fishing Camps Specific Claim
After many years of research and development, in 2019 Tŝideldel filed the Puntzi Lake Claim against Canada alleging that Canada failed to reserve two fishing camps for Tŝideldel at Puntzi Lake. In November 2022, Canada wrote to Tŝideldel offering to enter into negotiations toward a settlement of the Puntzi Lake Claim. Canada acknowledges that it breached duties owed to Tŝideldel by failing to exercise ordinary diligence in allotting reserves at Puntzi Lake. Specifically, Canada acknowledges that it ought to have followed up on Tŝideldel’s requests for lands for fishing purposes, and had Indian Reserve Commissioner Vowell visited Puntzi Lake in 1904 as requested, it is likely that Tŝideldel would have secured a reserve on the western end of Puntzi Lake before it was alienated to a settler. Canada also admits that it failed to investigate the discrepancy in lands reserved for Tŝideldel under the McKenna‐McBride Commission in 1914 which led to the failure to reserve a fishing camp for Tŝideldel on the eastern end of Puntzi Lake.
Next steps for Tŝideldel
Tŝideldel Chief and Council is beginning to work with Canada to negotiate a resolution of the Puntzi Lake Claim. Typically, redress for specific claims includes a financial settlement that undergoes a ratification process by the First Nation and its members. Tŝideldel Chief and Council will continue to keep our membership updated on these negotiations in order to ensure that any settlement reached is reflective of the values and interests of Tŝideldel.