Raphael Cree, a 106-year-old Cree from Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta, is suing the federal government for $1.5 billion as compensation for mineral rights on their land.
“He wants to go back to the reserve and that’s why he’s here,” said his son, Elmer.
Cree and 50 other members of the Paul Cree First Nation – named after Raphael’s father – have been pressing their claim to the Clearwater River Reserve for decades without success. They last made headlines in 1994 after marching from Fort McMurray to Edmonton to publicize their fight.
Their struggle dates back to 1921, when the Feds set aside land for the First Nation but never provided money for development.
Without housing, schools or roads, members found life difficult if not impossible. In the 1970s, Indian Affairs encouraged them to move to Fort McMurray, vacating their community. But Cree and his fellow band members say they are not part of another band and want official status as a First Nation, along with their own reserve.