Frequently Asked Questions

Michipicoten First Nation, Government of Canada, Government of Ontario

What are these negotiations about?

The Michipicoten First Nation, Canada and Ontario are negotiating a resolution to the First Nation's claim that the boundary of the reserve as surveyed in 1899 does not reflect an agreement reached in 1853 regarding 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 Crown, represented by William Benjamin Robinson, entered into the Robinson Superior Treaty with the Ojibway of Lake Superior in 1850. Pursuant to the Treaty, the Ojibway agreed to give up their right, title and interest in lands in the Lake Superior watershed, except for certain reservations identified in a schedule to the Treaty, in exchange for annuities and other benefits.

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

Although the historical events that gave rise to the Michipicoten First Nation's claim took place over a century and a half ago, the claim against Canada and Ontario was formally submitted in 2000 after both governments had set up processes to address outstanding land claims through negotiations.

The Government of Canada first established its various claims policies in 1973, along with a process and funding for resolving Aboriginal land claims through negotiations. Canada's current Specific Claims Policy dates from 1982. 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 for negotiation purposes the First Nation's claim that the First Nation's reserve, as surveyed, was too small and was not located as it should have been in accordance with an 1853 agreement.

What is the current status of the negotiations?

The Michipicoten First Nation, Canada and Ontario are taking an approach to settlement that includes a land component consisting of specific Ontario Crown land parcels, one immediately to the west of the existing reserve and others immediately to the east of the existing reserve, as well as financial compensation from Canada for the loss of use of the land since 1853.

Specifically what land is involved?

About four square miles of Ontario Crown land immediately to the west of the existing reserve, Gros Cap Indian Reserve # 49, is proposed for transfer to Canada to be set apart as an addition to the reserve for the Michipicoten First Nation, pursuant to the terms of a Settlement Agreement and the federal government's Additions-to-Reserve policy. The west boundary of the parcel selected runs straight north from a point on the west bank of the Dore River where it flows into Lake Superior.

Specific Ontario Crown lands to the east of the reserve will also be transferred to Canada to be set apart for reserve. These lands were the subject of a public consultation carried out in 2002 (please see below for more information on this).

Why were these lands selected?

These lands were selected for several reasons.

They were selected in order to give effect to an 1853 agreement regarding the boundary of the reserve.

They were also selected because they reflect the position of the Michipicoten First Nation, following the position expressed by Totomenai, the Chief of the Michipicoten First Nation who signed the Robinson Superior Treaty in 1850, and who said that he wanted "the tract about the Bay adjoining the Michipicoten River in the west and extending from that river to Riviere aux Dorees" as a reserve for his Band.

They were also selected because they contain areas of importance to the Michipicoten First Nation's interests and because selection of these lands does not negatively affect other stakeholders.

Why is the public being consulted about this claim?

Before the Crown settles a land claim, the Province of Ontario engages in a public consultation process. The Michipicoten First Nation and Canada have agreed to participate in this process.

The consultation process will provide information on the boundary claim and on the provincial Crown land that would be affected in a proposed settlement. It will seek public comment on the proposed land component of the settlement, as there is a commitment 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 if there are any outstanding local issues or concerns and the best way to address them. It provides information that assists the parties in reaching a final and lasting agreement that can be successfully implemented.

Will my land be expropriated to settle this claim?

No. There is no privately owned land in the parcels of land that are proposed to be transferred to Canada for purposes of this claim settlement.

Wasn't there public consultation a few years ago regarding land east of the reserve to be transferred to Canada for the Michipicoten First Nation?

Yes. Two Open Houses were held about four years ago to seek public input regarding land east of the reserve to provide the First Nation with land for housing, future economic development and, importantly, better access to Highway 17. This was part of an initiative that began in 1991 and involved a number of First Nations, together with the federal and Ontario governments, called the Land and Larger Land Base (LLLB) process; that process was designed to provide specific First Nations with land which could be used for community and economic development purposes.

The public consultation associated with the LLLB process for the Michipicoten First Nation was completed in 2002. Since the lands identified under that process had not yet been transferred, it is the intent of the parties to transfer them as part of the settlement of the Boundary Claim. Issues raised during the 2002 consultation process were addressed at the time and are reflected in the proposed easterly land offering by the Province.

What happens next?

A study process has been initiated by Canada and the Michipicoten First Nation to assist the parties in assessing the appropriate financial compensation for the 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 once this study process has been completed.

Following this, a Settlement Agreement will be drafted. This agreement must then be approved and ratified by the members of the Michipicoten First Nation and then the governments of Ontario and Canada. Once all three parties sign the Settlement Agreement, implementation can proceed.

How will the settlement of the Michipicoten First Nation's boundary claim affect the Wawa area?

It is the hope of the three parties that a successful resolution of this land claim through a negotiated settlement will create a positive environment for economic development, for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

As the Michipicoten First Nation is located within the Township of Michipicoten, economic development initiatives resulting from the settlement will bring positive regional economic spin-offs for the First Nation as well as the area's businesses and residents.

The resolution of the boundary claim will bring closure to a long-standing grievance against the Crown, provide certainty to the affected area and parties, and thereby help attract investment capital to the region.

For more information about the Michipicoten First Nation boundary claim, see the Fall 2006 Newsletter 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