Fact Sheet - Old Burial Ground Specific Claim Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
The area of the Town of Maniwaki located south of the Desert River was developed on lands that were originally part of the Desert River Indian Reserve, created in 1853, and now known as the Kitigan Zibi Indian Reserve. These municipal lands were included in historical land transactions which are currently subject to specific claims by Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (KZA). Six (6) of those claims were settled in 1988, 1996 and 1999. There are currently twenty nine (29) other claims from KZA in the specific claims process, of which two (2) are currently subject to negotiations.
The Old Burial Ground Claim
The Old Burial Ground claim is one of two specific claims currently in negotiations. The claim concerns 1.39 acre of land located within Maniwaki (see attached map). Approximately half of the claim area is covered by a provincial highway right-of-way (Highway 107) and the remainder is part of a lot recently purchased, on a willing-seller willing-buyer basis, by a corporation of KZA.
The land was used as a burial ground until 1881 for the Catholic population of KZA and Maniwaki. Because of erosion by the Gatineau River, the remains of the deceased were removed to safer grounds in the Assomption Parish cemetery. However, because of the continued erosion, KZA decided to lease out this land in order for the lessee to add improvements to protect the gravesites. KZA provided a surrender for lease of the land in 1889. At time of renewal of the lease, the Government of Canada (Canada) thought the land had reverted to the province, at the time of the original surrender for lease, as per the 1921 Star Chrome court decision. Letters patent were therefore issued by the province in 1946.
The claim was submitted by KZA in 1994 and accepted for negotiations in 1995 by Canada, under the Specific Claims Policy, on the basis that the Crown breached its fiduciary obligations with respect to the administration of the lease. This breach resulted in KZA losing reserve land because of the issuance of provincial letters patent. Canada also concluded that the terms of the lease were not in the best interest of KZA. More importantly, Canada concluded that the claim land was never the subject of an absolute surrender and, therefore, still has reserve status to this day. The Government of Québec concurs with this finding.
Negotiations started in 2002 and the parties recently reached an agreement-in-principle. During negotiations, both the Government of Quebec and the Town of
Maniwaki were consulted and kept regularly informed of progress achieved. The settlement agreement was negotiated in a spirit of recognition and reconciliation because the land was part of a burial ground included in the Kitigan Zibi Indian reserve and the burial ground was used for both the population of KZA and of Maniwaki.
The settlement agreement includes the following provisions:
- Canada will provide compensation to KZA in full and final settlement of the specific claim.
- An application will be made to the Governor in Council to have the Old Burial Ground land confirmed in its reserve status.
- As part of the Old Burial Ground is currently located within a larger lot purchased from a third party by a corporation of KZA, an application to the Governor in Council will be made to have the remainder of this lot added to the Kitigan Zibi Indian reserve.
- KZA will use part of the compensation to build a commemorative park on the land to recognize its sanctity. The park and monument will be commemorating the religious history of the population of KZA and Maniwaki.
- KZA's intention is to protect the above land from any future development and exploitation, except for a commemorative park.
- KZA's intention is to ensure that the current use of Highway 107 will be maintained for as long as the land is managed by the Government of Quebec.
- KZA provided its population with a copy of the settlement agreement for information and answered questions raised by its members.
- A public meeting with the population of KZA was held on November 4th, 2006.
- KZA's Band Council was satisfied that it had the support of its population and ratified the settlement agreement on November 6th, 2006 on behalf of its population.
- The settlement agreement was be provided to Canada for execution by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, confirmation of reserve status for the Old Burial Ground and addition to the reserve of the additional land.
- KZA and the Government of Quebec will conclude the negotiation of a permit to ensure the continued public use of the reserve land included in Highway 107 right-of-way.
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