Frequently Asked Questions

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Fort William First Nation, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario

What are these negotiations about?

Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario are negotiating a resolution to the First Nation's claim that the boundary of the reserve as surveyed in 1853 does not reflect the First Nation's understanding of the location and size of the reserve to be set apart pursuant to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850.

What is the Robinson Superior Treaty?

The government of the Province of Canada entered into the Robinson Superior Treaty with the Ojibway of Lake Superior in 1850. Pursuant to the Treaty, the Province of Canada agreed to set aside certain lands as reserve for the Ojibway in return for the Ojibway's agreement to give up their title to lands located in the Lake Superior watershed.

Why are we dealing now with events that happened so long ago?

While the historical events that gave rise to the Fort William First Nation's claim took place over a century and a half ago, the claim against Canada and Ontario was formally submitted in 1985 after both governments had set up processes to address outstanding land claims through negotiations.

The Government of Canada established its various claims policies in 1973, along with a process and funding for resolving Aboriginal land claims through negotiations. The Province of Ontario established a process in the 1980s for resolving Aboriginal land claims within Ontario.

After thorough historical and legal reviews, both Canada and Ontario accepted the Fort William First Nation's boundary claim for negotiation and the three parties have been actively negotiating since 2000.

What is the current status of the negotiations?

Canada, Ontario and Fort William First Nation have recently reached an agreement on a basis of a settlement. Ontario Crown land on Flatland Island and Pie Island, including Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve, is proposed for transfer to Canada to be set apart as reserve for the Fort William First Nation, pursuant to the terms of a settlement agreement and the federal government's Additions-to-Reserve policy.

My property is located in the claim area. Will my land be expropriated to settle this claim?

Canada and Ontario do not expropriate private property to settle land claims and existing access to private property is assured. The Fort William First Nation does not want to displace third parties and the First Nation has always maintained that two wrongs do not make a right.

The only land proposed for inclusion as part of a settlement is the Crown land on Pie Island, including Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve and Flatland Island. The province is discussing the purchase of the shore road allowance fronting the Crown land with the Municipality of Neebing.

Where are the proposed Crown land selections located?

Ontario and the Fort William First Nation have identified areas of provincial Crown land that the First Nation is interested in obtaining as future reserve land. These proposed Crown land selections are the provincial Crown land on Pie Island, including the Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve and Flatland Island. See the map  of the proposed Crown land selections.

Why were Flatland and Pie Islands selected?

Pie Island was selected because in 1853, the government surveyor recommended that Pie Island be included in the Fort William First Nation's reserve. However, the surveyor's recommendation was never implemented.

Flatland Island was selected because it was traditionally used by the Fort William First Nation.

Why is the public being consulted on the proposed Crown land component?

Before Crown land is included in a settlement, the Province of Ontario engages in a public consultation process. The Fort William First Nation and Canada have agreed to participate in this process.

The consultation process will provide information on the boundary claim, seek public comment and provide information regarding proposed changes to the provincial Crown land use direction on Pie Island, Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve, the Flatland Island portion of the Western Lake Superior Conservation Reserve and the provincial Crown land disposition. The parties are committed to a negotiation process that considers local issues and the concerns of directly affected parties.

A public consultation process also helps the parties to determine the best way to address any local issues or concerns. It provides information that assists in reaching a final and lasting agreement that can be successfully implemented.

What will happen to the Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve?

Should Canada, Ontario and the FWFN ratify a settlement agreement, Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve will be deregulated and transferred to Canada to be set apart as reserve.

How will it impact the Western Lake Superior Conservation Reserve?

Flatland Island will be removed from the Western Lake Superior Conservation Reserve. After the public consultation process has been completed, Ontario will proceed to regulate the remaining areas of the Conservation Reserve.

What happens next?

A study process has been initiated to assist the parties in determining fair compensation through an appraisal of the claim area and an assessment of the economic losses incurred by the Fort William First Nation as a result of the lost opportunity to use the claim area. Financial compensation will be determined through negotiations once this study process has been completed.

Following this, a settlement agreement will be drafted. The final agreement must then be approved and ratified by the membership of the Fort William First Nation, and the governments of Ontario and Canada. Once all three parties sign the settlement agreement, implementation can proceed.

How will the settlement of the Fort William First Nation's boundary claim affect the Thunder Bay area?

The successful resolution of land claims through negotiated settlements can create a positive environment for economic development for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. As the Fort William First Nation is located adjacent to the City of Thunder Bay, economic development initiatives resulting from the settlement will bring economic spin-offs for the First Nation and Thunder Bay businesses and residents.

The resolution of the boundary claim will address and resolve the land claim and bring certainty to the affected area and parties.

For more information about the Fort William First Nation Boundary Claim, see the Fall 2006 Newsletter and A Brief History.

Information is also available on the Internet at:

Fort William First Nation 

Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal