Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

May 26, 2011 11:20 ET

Canada and Four Ontario First Nations Take Major Step Toward Claim Settlement

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 26, 2011) - The Government of Canada, the Chippewas of Rama, the Chippewas of Georgina Island, the Beausoleil First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash have reached a major milestone in talks to resolve an outstanding specific claim in south-central Ontario.

Canada has tabled a settlement offer and the four First Nations have agreed to take this offer to their members for a vote. The proposed settlement includes approximately $307 million in financial compensation to resolve the claim. This specific claim dates back to events that took place over 170 years ago.

"This is a major step forward in joint efforts to bring closure to this longstanding claim," said the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. "Claim settlements not only resolve past grievances, but can also bring long-term economic benefits to First Nations, neighbouring communities and indeed, all Canadians."

"I was in my first term when the claim was accepted by Canada for negotiation with the Chippewa Tri-Council on July 23, 2002," said Chief Sharon Stinson Henry of Rama First Nation. "Our communities were eager for us to pursue a fair and just settlement for the wrongful taking of our lands in the 1830's. We are pleased to finally have an offer from Canada to take to our respective communities to begin the ratification and reconciliation process. It is now up to our members to decide. I want to acknowledge and thank all of the Chiefs and Councils, and our negotiators, who have worked hard over many years to bring this long outstanding claim to completion."

"It's been a long time and I'm proud that our past Chiefs and present Chiefs of the First Nations continued to work together despite the hurdles with Canada to resolve this outstanding claim," said Chief Donna Big Canoe of Georgina Island First Nation. "I look forward to my membership's input and seek their guidance on the offer of settlement. The long anticipated finalization of this claim will be beneficial to the membership and future generations."

"The monetary settlement of this claim has finally reached resolution; however, it will never acknowledge or address the hardships we've endured since we were defrauded of our right to live in Coldwater," said Chief Roly Monague of Beausoleil First Nation. "It certainly will assist us in moving forward with the opportunity to provide lost economic opportunities and try to change the social challenges we've endured for 170 years. It will take the strength, guidance and perseverance of the community to utilize this settlement to champion our right to succeed now and to look beyond these successes for the benefit of future generations."

Dr. Ian Johnson, Chief Negotiator for the Chippewa Tri-Council First Nations said: "This settlement will go some distance to righting an historic wrong and will restore the First Nations to their place as important centres of commerce while creating investment and business opportunities that will also benefit neighbouring communities in central Ontario."

The next step in the resolution process is for the negotiators to draft a Settlement Agreement. The First Nations will launch an information campaign to explain the proposed settlement to their members. When this work is complete, the First Nations will also develop their own Trust Agreements in consultation with their members that set out how their settlement dollars will be used and managed by the First Nations. No settlement is possible without the vote and approval of the membership of all four First Nations. If a favourable vote is reached, the next step is for the parties to sign the Settlement Agreement. The agreement would not be final until it is signed by all parties.

Claim settlements honour lawful obligations owed to First Nations and also open up investment and business opportunities that can bring economic benefits and build new partnerships for First Nations and neighbouring communities. Settlements seek to right past wrongs while protecting the rights of private land owners. Land is not taken away from anyone to settle any claims, nor is anyone asked to sell their land unwillingly.

The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to resolve outstanding land claims for the benefit of all Canadians. Settling claims is key to achieving reconciliation and rebuilding relationships with First Nation people in Canada.

This release and related background information, including a fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions are also available on the Internet at: Explore this interactive map to learn about specific claims settled through negotiations with First Nations since 1973.

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Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    (819) 953-1160

    Cathy Edney
    Communications for the Chippewa Tri-Council
    (705) 325-3611 ext.# 1416