From 1972 to 2009 Ermineskin’s population grew from about 1,000 to 4,000. The Nation needs room to grow and lands to support our people. Chief and Council are pleased to announce that the Ermineskin Cree Nation is in the early stages of expanding the Nation’s reserve lands by approximately 50 per cent.
Changes to the Government of Canada’s process for creating new reserve lands presented an opportunity for the Nation to significantly expand Ermineskin’s reserve lands for the benefit of our current citizens and future generations. In the past the Canada’s Additions To Reserve (ATR) policy was narrowly focused on the addition of reserve lands resulting from land claim settlements and restricted new reserve lands to only lands beside existing reserve lands.
Under the new ATR policy, First Nations can create new reserve lands in coordination with Canada – this is called a Community ATR. Over the years Ermineskin purchased lands north of IR 138, west near Usona, and near Buck Lake. These are the lands that may become new reserve lands.
The Buck Lake lands serve as an important connection to Ermineskin’s traditional way of life and culture. Sweats, ceremonies and cultural camps are held on the lands and ECN citizens hunt in the area. The Buck Lake lands are also already home to some ECN families whose homes would be better protected and serviced by the lands becoming reserve land.
The Buck Lake lands are about 5.5 square miles (3,500 acres) in total and are the largest area of potential new reserve lands. No homes currently on these lands will be impacted by adding the lands to ECN reserve lands.
The lands near Usona and the lands immediately to the north and east of IR 138 total approximately three square miles (1,800 acres). The lands near Usona are close to Ermineskin and so might be used primarily for new housing and community uses. The lands to the north near Wetaskiwin may be most suited for possible economic development.
Consultation with Ermineskin Cree Nation citizens is not a formal requirement of Canada’s ATR process. However, chief and council are committed to open meetings with ECN citizens to provide information, answer questions and get input on how the Nation should use these new reserve lands. Planning is in process for these meetings in the fall of 2020 and into 2021, subject to community health safety.
– From Ermineskin Cree Nation’s July 30th newsletter