Fact Sheet - Coldwater-Narrows Specific Claim


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  • The Chippewa Tri-Council (CTC) is composed of three First Nations (formerly known as the Chippewas of lakes Huron and Simcoe): the Chippewas of Mnjikaning, the Chippewas of Georgina Island and the Beausoleil First Nation. The CTC’s specific claim relates to the alleged 1836 surrender and subsequent sale of the Coldwater-Narrows reserve. Simply put, the CTC claims that the 1836 surrender was invalid because it was conducted improperly and that the “surrendered” land was sold below its value and in an untimely fashion.

  • The Coldwater-Narrows reserve was established in 1830 by the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Colborne, in an attempt to create a self-sustaining farming community for the Chippewas of lakes Huron and Simcoe.

  • Between 1830 and 1832, the three Chippewa First Nations settled on the reserve. Two of the First Nations, under Chiefs Yellowhead and Snake, settled in a village at the Narrows of Lake Simcoe; the other First Nation, under Chief Aisance, settled at Coldwater near Lake Huron. The reserve was approximately 10,000 acres in size and ran in a narrow strip of land, approximately 14 miles long by 1.5 miles wide, along an old portage route between Lake Simcoe and Matchedash Bay on Lake Huron.

  • Over the next six years, the First Nations constructed a road (which ultimately came to be Ontario Highway No. 12) over the old portage route between the two villages and cleared the land along the road for farming. Schools, houses, barns and mills were also built at the two villages. Between January of 1831 and March of 1837, the Chippewas paid approximately $48,000 of a total cost of $108,000 toward the establishment and maintenance of the Coldwater-Narrows reserve, plus the time and effort they had invested in clearing and improving the land.

  • The Chippewas of Coldwater-Narrows lobbied for six years in an attempt to secure title deeds and self-management of their lands. Although they were not successful in obtaining deeds, arrangements were made in 1836 to transfer management of the reserve and ownership of the property on the Coldwater-Narrows reserve to the Chippewas on March 31, 1837.

  • However, during the same period, the Coldwater-Narrows reserve was allegedly surrendered by the Chippewas, for sale by the Crown to non-Aboriginal settlers. A surrender document was signed in Toronto on November 26, 1836. Fact Sheet

  • The lands that used to be part of the Coldwater-Narrows reserve were sold to third parties between 1838 and 1872. Total known proceeds for the sale of the land, which were collected over a thirty-year period, amounted to $28,855.06.

  • The Chippewa First Nations moved away from Coldwater-Narrows in the years following the alleged surrender. At least one of the groups purchased other lands with their own funds. Today, they are located primarily at Mnjikaning (Rama) reserve near Orillia, Christian Island in Georgian Bay and Georgina Island in Lake Simcoe.

  • The Coldwater-Narrows specific claim was originally submitted by the CTC on November 4, 1991. After this submission was rejected by Canada, the CTC asked the Indian Claims Commission (ICC)* to hold an inquiry. The ICC has been facilitating discussions between the parties since that time.

  • Subsequently, the CTC revised its allegations, additional historical research was undertaken, and Canada conducted a review of the revised submission and new evidence.

  • Canada accepted the CTC’s claim for negotiation under the Specific Claims Policy on July 23, 2002.

  • Private property is not on the table during the negotiations of specific claims. Any land purchased as a result of a claims settlement would be on a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis. Any addition to reserve sought as a result of a settlement would be subject to the terms of Canada’s Additions-to-Reserve Policy.

  • While the negotiations are still in the early stages, Canada and the CTC are committed to a cooperative process to resolve this claim in a mutually acceptable manner through a negotiated agreement rather than through the courts.

  • Canada is committed to honouring its outstanding lawful obligations to First Nations and to resolving outstanding claims through negotiated settlements that create opportunities for economic growth on First Nations lands and in surrounding communities.

* The ICC is an independent commission of inquiry, which was established in 1991 under the fed eral Inquiries Act primarily to provide an alternative to the courts for First Nations whose specific claims have been rejected by Canada.

Negotiations on the Coldwater- Narrows Claim Summer 2003