Canada and Mohawks of Akwesasne Conclude Negotiations on Kawehnoke Claim
Ottawa, Ontario (February 21, 2012) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and Grand Chief Mike Mitchell of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) announced today that Canada and MCA have concluded negotiations to resolve an outstanding specific claim that dates back to the early 1820s.
Canada has made an offer to settle the Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island) specific claim. The MCA has agreed to take this settlement offer to its community for a referendum on May 26, 2012. The proposed settlement includes approximately $5 million in financial compensation.
"This is a decisive step forward in the resolution of this longstanding claim," said Minister Duncan. "It is clear that by working together as partners we can find win-win solutions. Negotiated settlements create new opportunities for investing in a brighter future for First Nation communities."
"We are pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded our negotiations with the Government of Canada," stated Grand Chief Mike Mitchell. "It is important that past wrongs to our people be corrected."
The Kawehnoke specific claim relates to lands leased on Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island) between 1820 and 1934. The basis of the claim is that Canada breached a lawful obligation because these past leasing arrangements were unfair and put in place without MCA's consent. As all the leased lands are currently part of the Akwesasne Reserve, the focus of the negotiations was to determine how much financial compensation was fair to settle the claim. This is a claim for financial compensation only.
Negotiators for the parties have completed their work on a draft Settlement Agreement. As a next step, the MCA will launch an information campaign to explain the proposed settlement to its community. This will include focus meetings and an informational mailer to the community of Akwesasne.
No settlement is possible without the approval by MCA's community through a referendum. If a favourable vote is achieved, the Settlement Agreement must also be approved by Canada before it can be finalized.
The Government of Canada and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne are committed to resolving this claim fairly, expeditiously and in the context of respect and good will that characterizes their mutual dealings.
Specific claims settlements right past wrongs and honour Canada's lawful obligations to First Nations. They also create new investment and business opportunities for the future that can bring long-term benefits to First Nation communities and local economies. Settling claims through negotiated agreements is key to achieving reconciliation and rebuilding relationships with First Nation people in Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable John Duncan
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Acting-Manager, Communications Unit
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
613-575-2348 ext. 2211
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