A small parcel of land in west Edmonton containing a historic cemetery will quickly formally belong to the Enoch Cree Nation.
In a ceremony Monday, the provincial authorities introduced it accredited the land switch as a step towards true reconciliation.
Positioned close to Anthony Henday Drive and south of Whitemud Drive, the land belonged to the First Nation till the federal authorities inspired its give up in 1908.
Chief Billy Morin mentioned the cemetery, the place ground-penetrating radar surveys have proven contains 80 websites, has the graves of Enoch Cree Nation’s first leaders, together with Lazarus Lapotac, Enoch Lapotac, and Tommy Lapotac.
Their descendants have been in attendance at Monday’s ceremony.
“They’re our founding household,” Morin mentioned. “Our founding chiefs of the Enoch Cree Nation.”
“We’re all standing the place our ancestors are buried,” he added. “In lots of methods this website was forgotten, however now we’re right here.”
Morin approached the town and provincial governments final yr with the proposal to switch the land.
“It took collaboration between these two ranges of presidency to say, the precise factor to do is to present Enoch Cree Nation again their land,” he mentioned.
Rick Wilson, Indigenous relations minister, mentioned the province has by no means accredited this sort of land switch earlier than.
“Most of us cross this spot,” Wilson mentioned. “You’re driving on the freeway and you don’t take discover about what’s again right here.”
Councilor Sarah Hamilton, Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson, Chief Billy Morin, descendants of Enoch Cree Nation’s founding chiefs, and members of the First Nation pose for a photograph following a land switch announcement on Monday, June 20, 2022 (CTV Information Edmonton/Brandon Lynch).
In response to the province, now that the land switch has been accredited, full authorized possession of the parcel remains to be within the works, with an anticipated timeline of “a couple of months.”
Prasad Panda, infrastructure minister and appearing transportation minister, mentioned the encompassing lands will stay publicly owned, with the province managing the “transportation utility hall across the cemetery in one of the best pursuits of Albertans.”
“For the folks of Enoch Cree Nation it is a deeply non secular place,” Wilson added. “This parcel of sacred land beneath our toes ought to by no means have been eliminated as reserve land.
“So it is solely proper and it is solely becoming that this parcel of land and the sacred burial website be returned to the Enoch Cree Nation.”