Indian Claims Commission

Indian Claims Commission

October 20, 2005 14:25 ET

Chippewas of the Thames Claim Resolved With ICC Mediation Assistance

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 20, 2005) - The Indian Claims Commission (ICC) issued its report today on the successful settlement of a specific claim by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation that goes back 150 years. The report deals with the mediation of the First Nation's Clench Defalcation claim, which was settled for $15 million in compensation.

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation is located at Muncey, Ontario, about 30 km southwest of London. It numbers 2,232 members, of whom 821 live on reserve. The claim involves money owed to the First Nation from the sale of lands surrendered in 1834, money that was misappropriated by an officer of the Indian Department, Joseph B. Clench. When the First Nation's claim was rejected by Canada, the First Nation asked the ICC to conduct an inquiry in August 1998.

Following a thorough review of the research materials and completion of a joint research project chaired by the ICC, Canada changed its position and accepted the claim for negotiation in June 2001. As a result, it was not necessary to subject the claim to the full inquiry process. Negotiations began in November 2001 with the ICC acting as a neutral facilitator at the request of the two parties.

In her report, Chief Commissioner, Renee Dupuis, gives the parties full credit for settling the claim. She adds that "The parties are to be commended for their foresight in addressing communications and ratification issues from the beginning of the negotiations. Keeping band members informed of the issue and progress of the negotiations and doing the laborious work necessary to ensure that all contact information is up to date is essential in making the ratification process run as smoothly as possible."

Noting that 24 months passed between the time an offer was made to and accepted by the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, to the time funds were finally transferred, the report recommends that Canada and First Nations look at ways to minimize the time it takes to finalize settlements once agreement is reached: "Both parties would benefit if settlement could be concluded more expeditiously."

The Indian Claims Commission was established in 1991. Its mandate is: to inquire, at the request of a First Nation, into specific land claims that have been rejected by the federal government, or accepted claims where the First Nation disputes the compensation criteria being considered in negotiations; and to provide mediation services at the request of the parties for claims in negotiation. Since 1991, the ICC has completed 65 inquiries and contributed mediation services in 42 claims processes.

This news release and the report can be found on the Indian Claims Commission web site at www.indianclaims.ca.

The Commission's March 2002 report, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation: Clench Defalcation Inquiry can be found online at www.indianclaims.ca.

Contact Information

  • Indian Claims Commission
    Brigitte Poullet
    (613) 947-0754