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If the union has a valid legal claim, the prime minister, replied, it should be settled in a fair way. But he refused to discuss the issue in detail with the chiefs because of a pending Supreme Court of Canada decision on an Indian land title claim.
Mr. Trudeau said the government would study the brief seriously. Mr. Chretien said the government would have to hear submissions from other Indian groups before formulating a policy on Indian land claims.
The union brief asks the government for compensation based on the value of the land at the time it was taken. The chiefs said later they have not yet decided how much compensation they want.
The brief asks that although the general claim is for compensation in terms of money, compensation in the form of land adjustments or additions to reserves would not be ruled out.
The chiefs said their claim differed from a native la title case now before the Supreme Court. The Nishga Tribal Council last year went before the court to press for legal recognition of native rights to more than 4,000 square miles of land in the Nass River Valley of northern British Columbia.
The union says their claim is for actual compensation for lost lands while the Nishga case involves legal title land.
The president of the Nishga Tribal Council, Frank Calder sent a telegram to Prime Minister Trudeau Wednesday, protesting the meeting with the union. He said it could influence the decision of the Supreme Court in the Nishga case.
The union denied this, but neither the prime minister nor Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chretien would discuss the union submission in detail because of the Nishga case.
Chief Forrest Walkem of the union executive called for early and favorable action on the claim. He said the Indians had waited too long for justice.
The union brief called for claims commission which would make a total award to the B.C. Indians which would be used to create an Indian Development Corporation to administer the funds for the development of the Indian people.