Negotiations on the Coldwater-Narrows Claim Summer 2003

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This is the first in a series of newsletters in which the negotiators for Canada and the Chippewa Tri-Council will provide up-todate information to First Nations members and other interested parties about the ongoing negotiations to resolve the FNs' claim. Since this is the first issue, some background information on the history of the claim is also included (see the Joint Fact Sheet inside).

Chippewa Tri-Council gdi' boozhoo kaa goh, kinah goh anchi ying, kinah naas op anj baa ying miinwa kinah no wan daad ying.

G'wii boozhoo kaa goh, niwiij nish naab ek miiwa bashi en daaj ik, punah gaa bi wiid nuk kii jig, kinah ji maaj iish kaa ying, ji kandaas ying, ko waab da mung yow ki miinwa kina, anchi ying wa wa nuh, ji maaj iish kaa ying.

Nii gan kinah g'dih naab min ji k'chi maaj eesh kaa ying.

The Chippewa Tri-Council takes this opportunity to greet members of our great First Nations, who share a historical alliance and extended family relations.

We greet our neighbours in the surrounding communities whose lives are so connected with ours, in family relations, economic development, education, environmental stewardship and community development.

We look forward to a brighter future together.
- Chief William McCue, Georgina Island First Nation
- Chief Valerie Monague, Beausoleil First Nation
- Chief Sharon Stinson Henry, Mnjikaning (Rama) First Nation

OVERVIEW

The Chippewa Tri-Council (CTC) represents three First Nations: the Chippewas of Mnjikaning (Rama), 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.

On July 23, 2002, Canada accepted the CTC's claim for negotiations under the Specific Claims Policy. As the negotiations are still in the early stages, the focus of the discussions to date has largely been on process issues. While the parties are working hard to expedite the process, there is still a good deal of work that must be done. To learn more about the current status of the negotiations and the next steps in the process, see the "negotiations update" and the "next steps" sections inside.

Canada and the CTC First Nations are committed to a cooperative process to resolve this claim in a mutually acceptable manner through a negotiated agreement rather than through the courts. A future settlement of the claim would create new opportunities for economic development and improving the quality of life for First Nations members. It would also generate spin-off economic benefits for surrounding communities.

JUST THE FACTS

In keeping with the Specific Claims Policy, private property will not be expropriated to reach a settlement of this claim and no third parties will be dispossessed through this process. All property owners' rights of access to their land are also protected.

Any land purchased as a result of a settlement would be on a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis. Any addition to reserve sought by the First Nations as a result of a settlement would be subject to the terms of Canada's Additions-to-Reserve Policy, which requires First Nations to address all third-party access and property interests and to consult with affected municipalities.

The parties have established and will maintain an open process for information sharing with First Nation members and other interested parties.

Canada is committed to negotiating fair and final settlements that resolve past grievances to the benefit of all Canadians.

MEET THE NEGOTIATION TEAMS

The CTC's Negotiation team includes: Chief Negotiator Dr. Ian Johnson; Chief Sharon Stinson Henry, Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation; Chief Valerie Monague, Beausoleil First Nation; Chief William McCue, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation; Councillor George St. Germain, Chippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation; Councillor Rod Monague, Beausoleil First Nation; Councillor Brett Mooney, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation; Alan Pratt, Legal Counsel; and Cathy Edney, Communications.

Canada's Negotiating Team includes: Chief Federal Negotiator, Charles Harnick; Assistant Negotiator Bev Lajoie and Claims Analyst James Moxon from the Specific Claims Branch of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC); Senior Communications Officer Nicole Bauman from INAC's Communications Branch; Regional Manager Linda MacWilliams and Senior Government Relations Officer Anne Murphy from INAC's regional office in Toronto; and Laurie Klee, Legal Counsel from the Department of Justice.

NEGOTIATIONS UPDATE

The negotiations are still in the early stages. To date, the focus of the discussions has largely been on process issues and the planning for a data gathering exercise to facilitate the negotiation of fair compensation. Here are some of the highlights:

Agreement on a joint negotiation protocol to create a general framework for negotiations.

Agreement on a work plan to guide the negotiation teams in their discussions (this work plan will be reviewed and updated at regular intervals). Establishment of a Communications sub-Committee with a representative from CTC and Canada.

Development of a joint protocol between negotiators on information sharing and a protocol agreement between negotiators and the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) relating to the ICC's future role as a facilitator during the negotiations.

Data gathering exercise gets underway, with start of a mapping project to more clearly identify the claim lands.

Note: It is important to clarify that the current ownership of the claim lands is not at issue in this process. The mapping project is part of the data gathering exercise to assist negotiators in determining fair compensation. The negotiators have already agreed that land appraisals would be a useful tool to help them work toward this goal. At present, they are also discussing what additional tools (ie. loss of use studies) might also be appropriate.

Discussion and analysis begins on appropriate tools for determining fair compensation.

Start of preparations/planning for land appraisals.

Note: During specific claims negotiations, loss of use studies are often undertaken to help assess the financial losses incurred by a First Nation as a result of the historical events that gave rise to the claim. Appraisals can also be done to determine the value of any lands that were lost as a result of a claim. Independent consultants who are experts in various fields are retained to conduct this research; they report back to the table on their findings, which enable negotiators to begin discussions on financial compensation.

COMMUNICATIONS/CONSULTATION ACTIVITIES ROLL-UP

A joint press conference attended by local media was held on August 9, 2002 to announce the commencement of negotiations and a joint press release was issued on that date to regional media, along with a fact sheet on the history of the claim. At that time, Canada and the First Nations also met with local officials to provide them with the opportunity to ask questions and to learn about the history of the claim as well as the negotiation process.

Beginning in the fall of 2002, a series of "meet and greet" sessions were held in the First Nations' communities to give First Nations members the opportunity to meet the negotiating teams for both Canada and the CTC.

Regular meetings held in the First Nations communities enable the Chiefs and Councils to update their respective communities on discussions taking place in the negotiations. It provides a forum for community members to discuss their concerns and questions. This part of the process is important in providing a healthy climate for discussion in the communities during the negotiations.

Local officials received an update on the negotiations by letter in January of 2003. The negotiation teams will provide local officials with an opportunity to receive another update on the negotiations through a series of face-to-face meetings in the near future. The parties will continue this important dialogue throughout the negotiations.

Canada and the First Nations also plan to keep other interested parties informed about the progress of negotiations through vehicles such as this joint newsletter and information sessions. At present, we are in the process of expanding our mailing list to include local interest groups and other third parties who might be interested in receiving updates as the negotiations proceed. If you did not receive this update through the mail and you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact: Cathy Edney at: (705) 325-3611 ext. 1416 or Nicole Bauman at: baumanN@inac.gc.ca

NEXT STEPS

In the coming months, the parties plan to:

  • Complete preparations for and commission of land appraisals.
  • Agree on other tools for determining financial compensation.
  • Complete the mapping project.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are the answers to some FAQs about specific claims in general to help generate awareness of the overall process. This is just a starting point. In future editions of this newsletter, we are planning to include some FAQs that are more specific to the negotiations on the CTC's claim. Watch for them!

What are specific claims?
For the most part, specific claims deal with the outstanding grievances that First Nations may have regarding Canada's fulfilment of its obligations under historic treaties or its administration of First Nations lands or other assets under the Indian Act.

How long has Canada been negotiating specific claims?
The Government of Canada has been engaged in the settlement of specific claims under its Specific Claims Policy since the mid-1970s. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, manages the negotiation, settlement and implementation of specific claims agreements.

How many specific claims have been settled to date in Canada?
What about in Ontario?

Over 240 specific claims have been settled to date across the country. Twenty-four of these claims were settled by the Government of Canada in the province of Ontario.

What happens when claims are settled? Do First Nations get back lands that were taken away from them in the past?
A common misconception is that claims settlements often involve the return of the lands that were originally taken. The reality is that this very rarely happens because, in most cases, the lands that were originally lost are now occupied by others. Canada firmly maintains that private property will not be expropriated in order to reach any claims settlement. If an Aboriginal group wishes to buy private property, there must be a willing seller and a willing buyer. However, a settlement of a land claim may also include a commitment from Canada to recommend transferring up to a certain amount of replacement land to reserve status, usually within a specified period of time. Before any such lands could be transferred, all third-party access and property interests must be addressed and the lands themselves must meet the criteria set out in the federal Additions-to- Reserve (ATR) policy.

How is compensation determined?
Under the Specific Claims Policy, compensation is based on legal principles. As part of the negotiation process, work is undertaken to assist negotiators in reaching agreement on the amount of compensation to be awarded to a claimant First Nation upon final settlement. To this end, loss of use studies are typically conducted by independent consultants who are specialists in various fields. The type of studies that are done depends primarily on the nature and location of the claim and is determined through negotiation. For example, the studies on a particular claim could look at financial losses related to forestry, agriculture and mining. In addition, land appraisals may be conducted as part of the process for determining the scope of compensation. The studies are reviewed by experts for the negotiating parties and used by the negotiators as a basis for beginning discussions on compensation.

Why does it sometimes take years to settle a claim?
The length of the negotiation process varies. While some claims can be resolved quickly, others may take years to negotiate, settle and implement. It all depends on the nature of the claim and the complexity of the issues involved. In any case, both the events that give rise to a claim and the process for determining the scope of compensation require careful historical research and thorough analysis. The parties may also have different views of their respective obligations and entitlements. Working through all of these issues can take time, but can also help to establish a new and better working relationship between Canada and First Nations that all parties can benefit from in the future.

What are the key steps in the negotiation process?
As a first step, the parties negotiate a Protocol Agreement, creating a general framework for negotiations and a process for consultations, and then work towards an Agreement in Principle (AIP). The AIP stage is reached when the First Nation indicates its willingness (through a Band Council Resolution) to submit the settlement offer to the community for ratification and Canada's negotiator is prepared to recommend the settlement for approval. The negotiators for the parties initial the Settlement Agreement (SA). Following ratification by First Nations members and by Canada, the SA becomes legally binding. The final step in the negotiating process is the implementation of the SA.

What benefits do settlements bring?
Settling specific claims addresses historic injustices that have undermined trust and understanding, through negotiated agreements that help to build new partnerships based on mutual respect and the shared goal of a more positive future for First Nations people.

The land and financial settlements can be a springboard for economic development initiatives that bring real and lasting improvements to First Nations communities, creating jobs and promoting self-sufficiency. First Nations that receive settlements often, in turn, invest that money into neighbouring communities through land purchases and economic development. All Canadians will benefit from Canada's commitment to honouring its legal obligations to First Nations while supporting healthy and vibrant First Nations communities and economies.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

CTC First Nations
Chief Sharon Stinson Henry, Mnjikaning First Nation (705) 325-3611
Chief Valerie Monague, Beausoleil First Nation (705) 247-2051
Chief William McCue, Georgina Island First Nation (705) 437-1337
Dr. Ian V.B. Johnson, Chippewa Tri-Council (705) 734-2000

Media, please call: Cathy Edney (705) 325-3611 ext. 1416

Canada
Charles Harnick, Chief Federal Negotiator (416) 361-1475 ext. 231
Bev Lajoie, Portfolio Manager Specific Claims Branch, INAC (819) 953-4622

Media, please call: Patricia Valladao (819) 997-8404