THUNDER BAY – A long standing land claim that has been in dispute for 160 years has been resolved with the agreement between the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and Fort William First Nation. Today the final settlement of that issue was concluded in a special ceremony at Fort William First Nation.
“Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario worked hard to bring this claim home,” said Chief Collins. “Now we have the land and resources that our First Nation needs to create businesses, employment and other opportunities which will benefit our members and the entire Thunder Bay area. The promises in the Treaty of 1850 about our reserve have finally been fulfilled.”
Kenora MP Greg Rickford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, MPP David Zimmer, Ontario’s Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation joined community members to celebrate the signing of this landmark agreement.
“This settlement honours past commitments and opens up new investment and employment opportunities for the future that will significantly benefit the Fort William First Nation and local communities,” said Rickford. “This agreement shows that with determination and a willingness to work together, we can arrive at effective solutions to resolve longstanding issues.”
“We’re building a better future for the Fort William community with this landmark agreement. This agreement means Fort William can invest in new jobs and create new economic opportunities for its members,” said the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for Ontario.
“I congratulate the Fort William First Nation on this historic achievement. The Ministry of Natural Resources values its close working relationship with the First Nation. I wish to thank everyone involved for their commitment and effort in achieving this settlement,” said the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources.
This settlement of the Boundary Claim includes about $149 million in financial compensation from Canada and approximately $5 million from Ontario. It also includes the transfer of provincial Crown lands on Lake Superior’s Flatland Island and Pie Island to the federal government, to be set apart as reserve land for the Fort William First Nation.
The process for resolving this claim involved a number of steps. In November 2010, the governments of Canada and Ontario and the Fort William First Nation announced that their negotiators had concluded talks on a settlement proposal. First Nation members approved the settlement in a vote on January 22, 2011, followed by approvals from Ontario and Canada.
In addition to the Boundary Claim, Canada and Fort William First Nation have also concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve the First Nation’s Neebing Surrender Specific Claim. This financial settlement resolves a historic grievance dating back to the late 1850s and includes compensation of approximately $22 million. The settlement was approved by First Nation members in a vote on December 4, 2010, and by Canada on March 2, 2011.