Southern Alberta’s Blood Tribe, the country’s largest reserve, has won part of its 40-year land claim battle against the federal government.
On Wednesday, a Federal Court judge ruled in favour of the Blood Tribe, finding that Canada shortchanged the tribe when the boundaries were drawn as part of 1877’s Treaty 7.
The reserve stretches 1,400 square kilometres across the southwestern Alberta prairie, from west of Lethbridge and south to Cardston.
Lawyers for the First Nation argued the town of Cardston and part of Waterton Lakes National Park should be included in its territory, but that part of the claim was rejected by Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn.
Zinn did find though, that the reserve does not accord with the land promised by Canada when it used the band’s population to calculate the Treaty Land Establishment (TLE) in the 1880s.
In a 205-page written decision, Zinn ruled Canada was in breach of Treaty 7 by misrepresenting the population of the Blood Tribe.
“The plaintiffs were entitled under the TLE formula to a reserve of 710 square miles, whereas the current reserve is 547.5 square miles,” wrote Zinn. “Canada is liable to the Blood Tribe for this breach of treaty.”
A separate hearing will now be scheduled to address compensation for the First Nation.
The government has 30 days to appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal and could take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
More to come