Michipicoten First Nation Boundary Claim Negotiations Newsletter - Fall 2006

Michipicoten First Nation, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario

Overview

The Michipicoten First Nation, Canada and Ontario are engaged in negotiating a resolution to the First Nation's claim that the boundary of its Gros Cap Indian Reserve # 49 does not reflect an agreement between the Chief and a representative of the Crown regarding the location and size of the reserve that was to be set apart pursuant to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850.

Negotiation of the boundary claim has been ongoing between the Michipicoten First Nation and Canada since early 2004. Ontario joined the table at the beginning of 2006. The parties have agreed that an approach to the settlement of the boundary claim could include financial compensation from Canada and a provincial Crown land component. The provincial land component incorporates lands that were the subject of earlier Land and Larger Land Base negotiations between the Michipicoten First Nation, Canada and Ontario that began in 1991.

Milestones

The Michipicoten First Nation submitted its Boundary Claim to Canada and Ontario in 2000. The events alleged in the claim, regarding the size and location of the reserve, date back to 1853 when survey instructions were provided, the southeast and southwest corners of the reserve were marked and a sketch was prepared. The Chief objected to the boundary as marked and there was an agreement to alter the boundary as marked, but it was never implemented.

The first survey of the reserve following the signing of the Robinson Superior Treaty did not take place until 1899. The survey was carried out in accordance with the unamended 1853 sketch. By that time, the agreement to alter the reserve boundaries had been forgotten. The forgotten agreement came to light again as part of the joint research conducted by Canada and the First Nation under the Michipicoten Pilot Project.

After conducting its historical research and legal review, Canada accepted the claim for negotiation in 2003, and negotiations began in early 2004. Ontario joined the table earlier this year.

Approach to a Settlement

The Michipicoten First Nation, Canada and Ontario are negotiating an approach to a settlement of the claim, which would include both a provincial Crown land component and financial compensation from Canada.

The approach to the settlement of the Boundary Claim includes providing provincial Crown land for addition to both the east and west of the First Nation's existing Gros Cap Indian Reserve # 49. The proposed land is an approximately one-mile wide strip of provincial Crown land immediately to the west of the existing Reserve. The proposed land to the east is illustrated on the map  . The transfer of this provincial Crown land east of the reserve to the Michipicoten First Nation for housing, future development and especially improved access to Highway 17 was the subject of public consultation (including an Open House) in 2002. It is now proposed that this land be added to the Michipicoten First Nation's reserve as part of the Boundary Claim settlement.

The proposed financial compensation will be based on the assessed economic losses incurred by the First Nation as a result of the lost opportunity to use the claim lands. Financial compensation will be determined through negotiations between the Michipicoten First Nation and Canada.

The Michipicoten First Nation and the Province of Ontario are also discussing possible ways to protect the First Nation's exercise of its treaty rights on Crown land further west of the reserve and to enhance consultation with the First Nation regarding this land.

No private property will be expropriated to reach a settlement of this claim, and existing access to private property will be assured.

Ontario is proposing to transfer the strip of Ontario Crown land about one mile wide that is adjacent to the west boundary (identified as the West Claim area and shown in yellow on the map), along with the provincial Crown land east of the reserve and shown in yellow on the map  , to Canada to be set apart as reserve lands for the Michipicoten First Nation. Through the Settlement Agreement, the Michipicoten First Nation will request that Canada add these lands to the reserve, pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Settlement Agreement and the federal Additions-to-Reserve Policy.

The settlement of the Boundary Claim will bring closure to the outstanding issues raised by the Michipicoten First Nation Boundary Claim. Under the agreed upon approach, in exchange for financial compensation and land, the First Nation will provide full and final releases and indemnities for the claim to Canada and Ontario.

Next Steps

Before Ontario will agree to transfer specific Crown Ontario lands to be included in a final settlement, the Ministry of Natural Resources must conduct an appropriate screening and review process.

In addition, there is still more work to be done before a settlement agreement can be completed, including:

  • Completion of various studies so discussions between Canada and the First Nation on financial compensation can be concluded;

  • Legal drafting of a Settlement Agreement once agreement on the Crown land component and financial compensation is reached; and

  • Securing the approval and ratification of a proposed settlement agreement by the members of the Michipicoten First Nation, and then the Governments of Ontario and Canada.

The Bottom Line

The settlement of the Michipicoten First Nation Boundary Claim will bring closure to the outstanding legal issues raised by the claim.

All of the parties to the negotiations are prepared to consider and fairly address the interests of those who may be directly affected by a settlement.

No private property will be expropriated to reach a settlement of this claim and existing access to private property will be assured. Appropriate arrangements will be put in place to ensure fair treatment of commercial and other interests affected by a settlement.

In addition to resolving this longstanding claim, the settlement will provide the Michipicoten First Nation with opportunities for future economic and community development and help foster a positive business climate for the First Nation and its non-Aboriginal neighbours.

Contacts:

Joe Buckell, Chief
Michipicoten First Nation
705-856-1993 ext 215

Doug Patterson, Negotiator
Specific Claims Branch,
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
819-953-6844

Media please call: 819-953-1160

Meish Podlog, Negotiator
Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal Affairs
416-326-4775

Media please call: 416-326-4780

Need more information?

Attend our Information Open House on December 15:

Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre
Nipigon Street, Wawa

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

See the documents titled Frequently Asked Questions and A Brief History of the Michipicoten First Nation Boundary Claim.

Information is also available on the Internet at:

Michipicoten First Nation  

Ontario Secretariat for Aboriginal  

Michipicoten First Nation

The Michipicoten First Nation is located 24 kilometres south of Wawa, Ontario, Canada, along a beautiful beach on the north east shore of Lake Superior. The community is registered under Gros Cap Indian Reserve #49 as defined by the 1850 Robinson Superior Treaty that originally scheduled the reserve. In addition, the Michipicoten First Nation has additional reserve lands located in Missinabie and Chapleau, Ontario.

There are approximately 700 Michipicoten First Nation members. Although on-reserve population remains small, through housing initiatives and economic opportunities and the acquirement of suitable land for building, the First Nation is endeavouring to increase its residency and provide an opportunity for its members to return home.