Social Assistance recipients of the Fond-du-Lac and Black Lake First Nations will not see a clawback to their provincial benefits, if receiving a payout from the Treaty 8 agriculture settlement.

Fond-du-Lac First Nation Chief Louis Mercredi says the provincial Ministry of Social Services confirmed the exemption earlier this week.

“It’s a major win for us as people of northern Saskatchewan,” Mercredi said. “They removed the cap and that’s a huge benefit for the social assistance clients of Black Lake and Fond-du-Lac First Nations.”

Both First Nations were proposing to pay their members $15,000 after settling a long-standing dispute over agricultural provisions contained in the treaty with the federal government.

Mercredi confirms that the Sask. social services ministry had put a cap of $1,500 per client.

Mercredi and Black Lake First Nation Chief Coreen Sayazie were in Regina last week meeting with government ministers, lobbying for the cap removal.

“I was optimistic we were going to get away with this,” said Mercredi. “Sure enough, they called us yesterday (Thursday) and lifted that cap, which is a bonus, a huge bonus for the northern people.”

A letter from the provincial government confirming the cap lift should be coming soon.

In January, Fond-du-Lac and the Black Lake First Nation agreed to a compensation package of approximately $177 million, with Fond-du-Lac getting $86.154 million.

Both First Nations are in the process establishing their trustees, who will be tasked with determining the payout schedule.

Mercredi and Sayazie are hoping to pay their members on Treaty Day in August.

(PHOTO: Map showing the territory ceded under Treaty No. 8, and the Indian tribes therein. Photo courtesy of Department of Indian Affairs, 1900.)

(With files from Kelly Provost)