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Demolition begins at Kapyong Barracks

It's a first step in what's going to be a long journey of redeveloping the site of the former Kapyong Barracks. Demolition of the site began Monday June 11. 

The question we have to ask is what took so long. 

It's been more than a decade, several court battles and has seen two prime ministers sitting in office.  And it's a good to know that this June is National Indigenous History Month. So let's start looking back when the Canadian government under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to sell the Kapyong Barracks site through a Crown corporation.   

Why? 

The people in charge knew that under Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) that First Nations have the option of buying Crown property. TLE is the negotiated process that makes up for shortfalls in land when the reserve system was first created. 

Again, why would the government try to sidestep First Nations? For whatever reason, perhaps the government had its own plans for redeveloping the site that did not include First Nations.

Here's something else to keep in mind, that it was Peguis First Nation under Chief Glenn Hudson who pursued the court case as a Treaty 1 TLE selection. Finally, in September 2015, Stephen Harper, then prime minister of Canada, indicated that his government would not be appealing the latest court decision. 

Folks that's 2015 that at the time I am writing is a little less than three years. Now, 13 buildings on the main site need to be torn down and the area has to be cleaned up from any hazardous materials. Basically it's a fait accompli that Treaty 1 First Nations will be getting the land.  

The final deal hasn't been signed yet but the First Nations are going to have to pay for the land.  And remember that the Canadian government was going to sell it to the Crown corporation for one dollar.

I know from covering this story over the years and sitting at community meetings at the Canadian Mennonite University that many people are worried about taxes.  Well, when the First Nations do get the land and before any development can occur, a Municipal Service Agreement in lieu of property taxes has to be negotiated before any construction can begin. 

I also know from those meetings and from emails I have received that some people worry, mistakenly at that I might add, that the Urban Reserve will import the squalor that has become an indelible image in the mind of many. 

No.

It's going to be a first class residential and business development.  Any Indigenous people moving there will more than likely be either First Nation politicians, their support staff, First Nations business people, First Nation professionals and other prominent Indigenous people.  

Of course when that happens, there will be a hue and outcry from people of who profits from this development.

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