Recent History – 1999
Nov. 15, 1999
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
A splinter group from the Kelly Lake First Nation has filed a comprehensive land claim that stretches from Jasper to the Peace River and the Rocky Mountains to northwestern Alberta.
“I’ve never been out in public but I think it’s time,” said Cliff Calliou, leader of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation (KLCN) to the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) board of directors on Thursday. “Kelly Lake has a valid, legal claim, and people should know.”
Calliou tried to ease concerns directors had about the implications for other constituents. “I don’t want to scare anybody,” he said. “I don’t want to say, take back the land and everything else.”
Traditionally, the claims are the opening demand and the final settlement ends up being much smaller. “It brings back a secure land-base for my people,” he said adding that those who might be affected can intervene.
Calliou said the KLCN was formed in May 1996 after 40 votes from a council election the month before were not accounted for. He claims that 53 per cent of the community members have joined the KLCN.
Two months later, the KLCN filed a comprehensive land claim with the federal government and after two years of legal maneuvering, Calliou said he’ll know by early next year if negotiations will begin.
After learning about Calliou’s presentation to the directors, the Kelly Lake Elders Council sent a letter to the PRRD downplaying the importance of the KLCN.
“We realize that there are a lot of politics in our community, and as a result it has hindered our growth and has caused serious divisions,” they said.
The elders said they’re concentrating on building a common ground through which community issues can be addressed. “If anyone feels that they have a claim to the land, well by all means deal with it at the level of the courts and the Department of Indian Affairs or Metis Council, but as a separate issue not as a community issue.”
Immediate concerns for the elders include building a new hall to also be used as a community development center. As well, a new phone system is being installed and a store and gas station was opened two months ago.