The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and Mitaanjigamiing First Nation on Monday announced the final settlement of an outstanding land claim stemming from events that took place more than 140 years ago.
Achieved through negotiations, the settlement will add roughly 1,646 hectares (4,069 acres) of provincial Crown land to the First Nation’s existing reserve in Northwestern Ontario.
In addition, the settlement provides the First Nation with financial compensation of about $23 million from Canada and $1.8 million from Ontario.
The negotiated agreement settles the Treaty Land Entitlement claim by providing land owed to Mitaanjigamiing First Nation under the terms of Treaty #3, and also provides the First Nation with new opportunities for future community and economic development.
“The impact of settling this claim, 145 years after the treaty was signed in 1873, will be transformational not only for the current 167 citizens of Mitaanjigamiing but also for our future generations,” said Mitaanjigamiing Chief Janice Henderson.
“Twenty-nine years ago, a significant milestone was achieved after years of our citizens having been dispersed throughout the territory and temporarily located on an island because we did not have a permanent home,” she noted.
“It was at that time that we were finally able to establish a permanent community site after many years of negotiations,” Chief Henderson added.
“This settlement will enable us to further develop our community and create economic opportunities.”
“Congratulations on this milestone,” said federal Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett.
“Achieved in a true spirit of partnership and respect for treaty rights, this historic settlement will help right a past wrong and pave the way for a better future for many generations to come,” she remarked.
“I am delighted to celebrate this successful settlement agreement,” Bennett added.
“Increasing the land base of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation will help foster the current and future social and economic aspirations of the community, creating new opportunities for the region as a whole,” echoed David Zimmer, the minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for Ontario.
“This is an important step on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples,” he stressed.
“This settlement agreement is another step forward towards the goal of reconciliation,” said provincial Natural Resources and Forestry minister Nathalie Des Rosiers.
“I am honoured to be part of this settlement agreement, and a government that is committed to working in co-operation with our indigenous partners to help achieve real and measurable change for indigenous communities,” she added.
“This negotiated agreement honours a treaty promise made to the First Nation and is a key step forward in a shared journey of healing and reconciliation for the benefit of First Nation members and all Canadians,” noted Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak.
Settling outstanding land claims through co-operative negotiations and respectful dialogue is a key step toward healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
Negotiated agreements renew relationships, honour treaty obligations, and help build a better future for all concerned.
Mitaanjigamiing First Nation is located on the western shore of Rainy Lake.
The basis of Mitaanjigamiing’s claim was that it did not receive the quantity or quality of land it was entitled to under Treaty#3.
Tripartite negotiations to resolve this longstanding dispute began in 2008.
During the negotiations, consultations were undertaken with the public and other indigenous groups on the provincial Crown land component.
The settlement was approved by First Nation members in a vote in September, 2017, with 100 percent of those who voted doing so in favour of the agreement.
Ontario signed the settlement in November, 2017 and Canada signed in January, 2018.
The settlement lands will be transferred to Canada to be set apart as reserve under the federal Policy Directive on Additions to Reserves and Reserve Creation.