(La Tuque) The Council of the Atikamekw Opitciwan welcomed with great satisfaction the decisions made on May 20 by the Specific Claims Tribunal.
The Court gives reason to the Atikamekw Opitciwan and confirms that the federal government breached its fiduciary duties during the creation of the reserve and in the flood territory for the creation of the Gouin Reservoir, in the early twentieth century, on 152.89 km of territory, including 542 acres at the same initial reserve Opitciwan.
“This is a historic victory,” said chef Christian Awashish. “It is high time that governments recognize past mistakes and our community to be properly compensated for the damages suffered,” he added.
Opitciwan pursuing the federal government because of the damage and inconvenience during the construction of the dam La Loutre leading to the creation of the Gouin reservoir between 1918 and 1922. At the time, this decision caused the destruction of homes and the engulfment land and property of all who were there.
“This event, in addition to being a traumatic episode for the community, resulting in the definitive disappearance of traces of the collective memory of the latter, in addition to causing the loss of land dedicated to their livelihoods,” said the Council of Atikamekws Opitciwan
Moreover, Opitciwan also been successful while pursuing the federal government for unreasonable delays in the creation of the reserve from 1934 to 1944, and for not having received sufficient area while his community was entitled to expect fair treatment in this direction.
“The federal Crown has legal and fiduciary obligations enforceable to ensure the implementation of the process of creation of the reserve Opitciwan,” it said in the decision of Justice Johanne Mainville.
The Specific Claims Tribunal also recognized the losses incurred. The next step is determining the amount of compensation.