After months of anticipation, Treaty 8 money is beginning to flow to members of the Fond du Lac Dene Nation.
The federal government transferred $177 million to Fond du Lac and the Black Lake Dene Nation in January as part of a treaty agricultural settlement.
Fond du Lac members were supposed to get a $15,000 payout in early August as part of the band’s treaty day, but Chief Louie Mercredi says some administrative hiccups prevented the board of trustees from distributing the payout as quickly as they would have liked.
“It been a long process, you know,” he says. “Some people are getting a little frustrated with the changing of plans here and there but, like I said to the membership, ‘How can we put time on something we haven’t done before in the history of our treaty? We haven’t dealt with anything like this.’”
Distribution of the payout began last week with a special celebration and cheque distribution on Sept. 5.
Mercredi says it was particularly gratifying to distribute cheques to some of the older members at this event.
“It’s a huge honour to be there as a chief handing out this treaty payment. It was a big day for me, I tell you that.”
Fond du Lac is also distributing the individual payments to its roughly 2,080 members electronically through personal bank deposits.
Other cheques are in the process of being mailed out to those living off reserve.
In a July 20 referendum, band members voted in favour of the $15,000 payout.
As part of the referendum, they also approved treaty monies could be invested in such areas as housing, health, education and economic development.
(PHOTO: Fond du Lac Dene Nation Chief Louie Mercredi, left, hands a Treaty 8 cheque payout to a band member at a special celebration Sept. 5. Photo courtesy Fond du Lac Band and Urban Members Facebook page.)