Gull Bay First Nation Votes for OPG Agreement

Gull Bay First Nation is 175kms North of Thunder Bay.
Gull Bay First Nation is 175kms North of Thunder Bay.

Gull Bay First Nation is 175kms North of Thunder Bay.
Gull Bay First Nation is 175kms North of Thunder Bay.

Klaahke Zaaglng Anishlnaabek – Gull Bay First Nation (GBFN) has voted by both a mail-in and in-person ballot vote conducted in the community on Saturday, November 8,2014,with the results affirming the membership’s desire to see Council accept OPG’s FinalOffer as 495 members votedIn favour of the deal while only 38 members opposed.  “I am pleased that members have clearly expressed their interest to settle. This deal represents the beginning a new and improved positive relationship between the First Nation _and OPG including the potential to move forward as partners together in future developments. I am personally excited to receive its mandate from the membership which I will carry onward into negotiations with Ontario and Canada,” said Chief King.

Chief Wilfred King is pleased to announce that members have overwhelming voted to ratify the terms of the final offer  endorsed by Chief and Council by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in regards to the community’s past grievances for the damages suffered by the First Nation and its people as a result of dams constructed by OPG on the Nipigon River between 1918 and 1950, and by the Ogoki River diversion completed in 1943. These projects not only flooded the community and its Traditional Territory, seeing a loss of land mass and excessive shoreline erosion, but caused serious damage to the resources used by its members in their livelihood (hunting,fishing,trapping, gathering and recreation). Other damages that are much more difficult to quantify are those done to the burial grave sites that are obviously considered irreparable and can never be compensated for in monetary terms.This vote ratifies an offer on only OPG’s portion of the total settlement of GB FN’s past grievances in regards to the associated flooding.

As part of the overall settlement with OPG, OPG shall deliver a formal apology to the Chief, Council and members to acknowledge the impacts on the First Nation. The apology delivery is proposed to take place on December 11tt1 in Thunder Bay by OPG President Tom Mitchell. King says that there was a significant increase by OPG from the terms of the offer that he refused back in 2010. Details of the final offer include the disbursement of $12.5 million dollars in compensation funds, the receipt of annual on-going rental fees to be paid by OPG to GB FN on the flooded lands, and a continued commitment to complete the shoreline erosion mitigation work in the community by OPG.

KZA -GB FN Council directs Chief Wilfred N. King to continue the negotiation processes with the two remaining parties, being Ontario and Canada, in regards to the Past Grievance Claims stemming from the flood damages to the community, the Traditional Territories of the First Nation and the Traditional way of life for members of the First Nation including the impacts against their Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

King states, “It has always been the intention of the current GB FN Chief and Council to negotiate settlements with all three branches of the parties responsible for the damages incurred by the community – those being OPG, Ontario and Canada. This vote represents only one of the three settlements that members will receive in association with Gull Bay’s claim regarding the damages connected with the existing facilities of OPG.

Specifically excluded from the settlement are any new or proposed projects, for example, the Little Jackfish River

Hydroelectric Project. King explains that GB FN has the right to partner, if members so choose,in the development of the LJR project, and that they also play a serious role in the determination as to whether that project can proceed – given the community’s location on the Lake Nipigon watershed and the potentialadverse affects that must be addressed in advance of approval. He also states that any future compensation with respect to OPG’s proposed projects will be dealt with through the duty to consult obligations of the Crown and the project proponent on a  go forward basis.