The Kapyong Barracks has finally been returned to Treaty 1 First Nations.
On Friday officials from Canada and seven First Nations came together at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg to sign the final transfer of the former military base.
“The promise of tomorrow with Kapyong is upon us,” said Chief Dennis Meeches, a spokesperson for the Treaty 1 Nations. “We have, I think, so much to offer and we’ve always given our hearts, our soul to Canada.”
The fate of the 64-hectare property has been in limbo for 17 years, since it was closed down in 2004.
Canada wanted to sell the land but Meeches and others fought to have it returned to First Nations through the Treaty Land Entitlement.
Federal cabinet minister Jim Carr, a Manitoba MP, attended Friday’s signing.
“This historic agreement is a result of close collaboration among all of us, and we know nation to nation negotiations can sometimes take time to get right but we understand their significance,” he said.
Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Deborah Smith said the agreement will provide opportunities for her community.
“Today signifies, for me, economic reconciliation,” she said.
Nearly 70 per cent of the land will be transferred to Treaty 1 and turned into an urban reserve.
“Within the next five to 15 to 20 years we’ll probably see well up to two billion dollars worth of investment, over 2,000 jobs created, opportunities for not only Treaty 1 but other Indigenous people across Manitoba and this country,” said Meeches.
The reserve will include commercial development, housing, a sports centre and a war museum.