Fact Sheet - Wikwemikong Islands Claim Negotiations
The Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve (known as 'Wikwemikong') and the Governments of Canada and Ontario are currently in the early stages of negotiations to resolve the outstanding land claim relating to the islands off the eastern shore of Manitoulin Island.
The Negotiation Process
Canada, Ontario and Wikwemikong agreed to a process to negotiate the land claim in November 2007. While discussions at the table are proceeding well, much work remains to be done before a final settlement can be concluded.
During land claim negotiations, studies of land values and economic losses are typically done to help negotiators determine fair financial compensation to settle the claim. This research is done by experts who are specialists in various fields. Planning and discussion on technical issues is required before these studies begin.
Local interests and concerns will be taken into account during the negotiation process. Wikwemikong will consult its members and share information about the negotiations with the community. All parties have agreed to communicate and share information with groups and individuals having an interest in the outcome of negotiations such as the local municipality, property owners, and people using the area for recreational purposes.
Land claim negotiations take place on a “without prejudice” basis. The goal of the process is to work together to reach a settlement to resolve the claim in a way that is fair to Wikwemikong and to all Ontarians.
Canada and Ontario do not expropriate private property to reach a land claim settlement, nor is anyone asked to sell their land unwillingly. Any private property land transaction is on a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis.
In the case of land-related claims in Ontario, settlements can include:
- a provincial Crown land component where possible and after appropriate public consultation
- compensation for the value of the land lost to the First Nation
- compensation for the income that the First Nation lost by not having use of the land.
Land-related settlements in Ontario can involve the transfer of provincial Crown lands to Canada to be set aside as reserve lands for a First Nation. When this happens, a provincially-led public consultation process is conducted on the proposed Crown land to be transferred. The transfer of the lands is subject to the terms of the settlement that is negotiated and must also meet the criteria of Canada's Additions-to-Reserves (ATR) Policy. A number of steps must be completed before the land can be given reserve status. These steps include, for example, an environmental site assessment and First Nation-led consultation with municipal and provincial governments.
The Benefits of Settling Claims
All parties are committed to a co-operative process to resolve this claim in a mutually acceptable manner through a negotiated agreement rather than through the courts. The parties recognize the mutual benefits to be obtained from resolving this claim. A resolution will provide certainty and foster a positive climate for investment and economic development in the region.
Land claim settlements provide First Nations with fair compensation to right past wrongs and honour outstanding obligations. Settlements also bring economic benefits to First Nations and neighbouring communities, creating opportunities for new business partnerships in the area. The goal of all parties is to reach a negotiated settlement that is fair to all concerned and recognizes the interests of all people who live and work in and enjoy this part of Ontario.
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