The discovery of coal in the Grande Cache area ignited industrial and residential developments that would shape the town and forever change the ways and lives of the Aseniwuche Winewak. The local Indigenous community was not consulted or invited to participate in any development decisions because they had no legally recognized title to the land. Many traditional sites, homes and gravesites were destroyed, triggering a legacy of loss.
In 1970, the Province of Alberta and the Indigenous settlers in Grande Cache started formal discussions about the land. In 1974, Land Settlement Agreements were created under the Cooperative Association Act, allocating seven parcels of land totalling 4150 acres. Based on traditional family groupings, seven landholdings were established: Victor Lake, Grande Cache Lake (Kamisak), Susa Creek, Muskeg Seepee, Joachim, Wanyandie Flats West and Wanyandie Flats East. The path to establishing the Co-operatives and Enterprises was not easy. In addition to the forcible exit from Jasper, our People challenged two removal attempts from the Grande Cache area in 1912 and 1939.
Following the 1974 Land Settlement Agreements, Alberta subsequently filed caveats on the titles to stop Indigenous residents from selling or developing the land without government approval. This created landholdings that are unlike any in Canada. The lands must be held communally and cannot be owned or mortgaged by individuals. There was no cash compensation for land now used as provincial parks, the townsite or the coal mine.
Learn more about the history of the Aseniwuche Winewak and the formation of the Co-operative and Enterprise communities with our interactive timeline.