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The Commission's findings, conclusions and recommendations are based on inquiries it held this year into the creation of the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range, the impacts it had on the peoples of these two communities, and the rejection of their earlier claims.
The report concludes that the Government of Canada breached its treaties with the claimant First Nations (Treaties 6 and 10) and that it was also in breach of its fiduciary duty to the First Nations in its representation of their interests. As a result, the Indian Claims Commission recommends that both claims be accepted for settlement negotiation by the Government of Canada pursuant to its 1982 specific claims policy, Outstanding Business.
"The recommendations in this report, if accepted by government, as I expect they will be, will set the stage for the parties to commence negotiations necessary to settle this unfortunate and
Important for the Commission's consideration, according to Commissioner Dan Bellegarde, was that in displacing the Canoe Lake and Cold Lake First Nations citizens from 2.9 million acres of land in the bombing range, the Government of Canada "completely destroyed, abruptly and immediately, a complete way of life without due compensation and rehabilitation which the people were led to believe was going to come to them."
According to Leon Iron, of Canoe Lake, the people of Canoe Lake and Cold Lake will be happy to hear about the Commission's recommendations, and ultimately, "I hope that someday we'll be able to use that land again ... fishing, trapping, and so on." Iron also anticipates a package to compensate for the best years of fishing and trapping which the people were denied on their traditional lands.
Bellegarde anticipates that the federal government will take the Commission's recommendations seriously and act on them. The Indian Claims Commission was established by the Government of Canada under the Inquiries Act as part of Canada's commitment to accelerate the fair consideration and settlement of Indian land claims described by government as "specific claims". The Commission was put in place after considerable consultation with First Nation Chiefs from across Canada. It has been charged with the responsibility of inquiring into and reporting upon claims disputes arising out of government's rejection of them as well as compensation issues which may arise during settlement negotiations. The Commission may also provide mediation services at any point in the negotiation process at the request of the parties.
A total of 59 inquiries from First Nations has been submitted to the Commission to date. An estimated 8 to 10 inquiries into claims will be initiated in 1993.