Bands plan to appeal ruling
The four local First Nations which are plaintiffs in the “two-chain” case are disappointed with the decision announced Feb. 19 and will be appealing the ruling by Justice J.S. Fregeau.
In a press release, leaders of Couchiching, Naicatchewenin, Nigigoonsiminikaaning, and Mitaanjigamiing First Nations stated they “strongly disagree” with the court’s decision that the two-chain shore allowance along Agency #1 reserve now may be under control of the Town of Fort Frances.
“Our elders have told us to fight hard for this land for that very reason,” he noted.
The late Couchiching chief Chuck McPherson was the former spokesperson for the Agency #1 chiefs and led an unrelenting campaign to ensure the reserve lands were under First Nations’ control and ownership, the press release noted.
“We are especially committed to appealing this decision; our community members are calling the band office to ensure we appeal,” said Couchiching FN band manager Smokey Bruyere.
“This reserve and the park’s return is an important priority to all the First Nations,” he stressed.
“We are looking at our options to appeal this decision,” echoed Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation Chief Gary Allen.
“There is a timely need for a decision to be made soon, and our lawyers are going through the 130-page decision to ensure we get the best advice on this,” he noted.
“We have always been committed to this Agency #1 reserve and we look to it for economic development opportunities,” agreed Mitaanjigamiing First Nation Chief Janice Henderson.
“The court just made this effort more challenging,” she said.
Once the appeal becomes more formal, the Agency #1 First Nations will be available to comment further.
As reported in yesterday’s Daily Bulletin, the Town of Fort Frances is extending an olive branch and hoping it can come to an agreement with the other parties to resolve matters.
“The town sincerely hopes that the judge’s findings can be utilized as a mechanism to initiate a process of consultation with the First Nations and all other parties with a view to settling al outstanding issues so that further costs and delays can be avoided,” the town said in a press release issued late Monday.
“In consideration of the interests of all communities, the town would like to meet with the Agency #1 First Nations at the first opportunity,” said Mayor Roy Avis.
“It is time to come together and work collectively to address the many challenges that face all communities in our area,” he stressed.