THUNDER BAY – Leader’s Ledger – Good morning/afternoon Elders, Chief Collins, Councillors, community members, and distinguished guests. It is a great honour for me to be participating in this historic ceremony with you today on behalf of the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I would like to thank the Fort William First Nation for your warm welcome.
Minister Duncan has asked me to express his warm congratulations to the leadership and every member of your community on your claim settlement, and I would also like to offer my personal congratulations.
What we celebrate together today is the resolution of a claim that dates back to the 1850s. Today, as we mark the conclusion of the negotiated settlement of your First Nation’s Boundary Claim with Canada and Ontario, we at last see your ancestors’ intentions for their descendants fulfilled. Our Government is pleased to be a party to this resolution that enables us to honour past commitments.
I always feel particularly privileged when I am invited to participate in ceremonies of this kind. There is so much cause for celebration – these settlements open so many doors to a brighter, more prosperous future for First Nations.
I believe the spirit of the achievement we mark today is captured by the motto of your community’s recent Fort William Days celebrations: Respecting Our Past, Embracing Our Future.
In concluding the settlement, we respect the past and your ancestors’ understanding of the agreement they signed with the Crown. At the same time, through the financial compensation and the transfer of Ontario Crown land to be set apart as an addition to your reserve, you will be able to create new business, jobs and investment opportunities that bring long-term benefits to your members.
These investments can in turn lead to benefits for neighbouring communities, and the potential for new and thriving partnerships.
I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work, good will and dedication, of the negotiators and of all parties, that went into achieving the Boundary Claim Settlement
I am sure everyone on this stage would agree that this historic settlement is proof of what can be accomplished by claims negotiations conducted in good faith. When there is a firm resolve on all sides to work together to find a common solution, we achieve a win-win scenario that balances the interests of all Canadians.
The Government of Canada has another reason for celebrating with you today… the negotiated settlement to conclude your Neebing Surrender Specific Claim. This settlement also resolves a historic grievance dating back to the 1850s.
These two settlements have the potential to lead to new economic opportunities for your First Nation and other communities in the region.
In conclusion, please accept my best wishes for a most joyous celebration on this historic and very happy occasion.
Greg Rickford MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development