Clarifying the Boundary Claim

I just wanted to take a few minutes to dispel a few inaccuracies that are floating around out there about the Nipissing First Nation Boundary Claim.

First of all, this is a boundary dispute settlement.  It is resolution of a long-standing, well-researched and documented error on behalf of the federal government.

Back in the day, the Dominion of Canada’s land survey agents incorrectly surveyed the Nipissing No. 10 reserve lands that were negotiated by our treaty signatory, Chief Shabogesic.

In 1850, Chief Shabogesic agreed that we do hereby fully, freely, and voluntarily surrender, cede, grant, and convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title, and interest to, and in the whole of, the territory above described, save and except the reservations set forth in the schedule”.

The schedule of the reserves was right.  But the surveying and the actual land set aside was wrong.

The government owes us restitution for this error.

In exchange, the government owes us either (1) land and/or (2) a cash settlement for fair market value, loss of historical use, interest and value increases as a result of economic and market forces.

In this case, Canada did not have the authority to negotiate for land, such a negotiation would need to involvement of the Government of Ontario.  On the bright side, for those who want land, we are fully able to use the settlement to purchase new lands that can be added to the reserve through the Additions-to-Reserve process.  We can add up to three additional reserves if need be.

The settlement agreement is NOT a new treaty or an additional surrender.  Nor is it a surrender of our jurisdiction of sovereignty.  If there are any further claims (timber, royalties, annuities, etc.), our rights to future settlement won’t be affected.

We need to all understand that the traditional territory that we share with all Canadians in northeastern Ontario was already ceded and surrendered.  Voting yes or no, won’t affix our reserve boundary in any way.

The surrender language in the agreement is contract and ratification language that provides the resolution of the matter and lays to bed the legal question and obligation arising from the Boundary claim.  The government insists on this so we don’t take the settlement, spend the money and take them to court anyway.

If we vote “no”, nothing will happen.  We won’t receive a settlement.  Sure, we may reserve the right to take the matter to federal court, and yes, we would probably win.  But it will then be up to the courts to decide what settlement we will get.  Most people are never satisfied with the result of a court decision – except the beautiful people in the movies.

Sure we may feel empowered over our Council, land staff, negotiators, legal and financial advisors.  But it will effectively disempower our negotiating position, not improve it.

One day, we may get to the negotiation table again.  But the federal government, particularly under this Conservative government, doesn’t like to give second chances.  We may have to wait a generation or so.  But if that is our choice, so be it.

Believe me, and I’ve been to hundreds of First Nations across Canada.  I’ve seen communities with boundary claims, specific land claims, comprehensive land claims, treaty land entitlement claims, self-government agreements, and modern-day treaty agreements.  The Nipissing First Nation land staff, land code and land management regime is among the most sophisticated and respected across Canada.  They’ve done their homework and have done a lot of hard work on this boundary claim settlement.

When the respected and visionary ancestor of the McLeod family negotiated the Treaty, and “surrendered” this territory – he wasn’t selling out.  He was looking after the future generations of his people.  We’re being asked to do the same.

Let’s empower ourselves and set things right.

A few cool facts about the Boundary Claim:

  • We’re getting more of a settlement for our community, than each Algonquin community will receive under the new Algonquin Comprehensive Agreement.
  • We’re getting more of a settlement than each of the Chippewa bands will receive under the Coldwater land claim, one of Canada’s largest land claims.
  • Although the New Credit/Toronto purchase land claim was worth more, we have the ability to add reserve lands to the mix.
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9 Comments

  1. You know how to say it right Bob ! Miigwech !

  2. Again – well said Bob! I’m sure glad you take the time to put this out for FBers!

  3. you said it well Bob.//////

  4. Bob,

    This is a great statement about our Boundary claim. I wish the “naysayers” in our community would read this latest Blog. All true and important information.

  5. Love your insight Bob. t

  6. Matt McLeod says:

    Everyone who worked hard bringing the settlement to this point deserves the recognition and respect of every member. I’d like to thank Joan McLeod for answering some of my questions and everything she has done on behalf of everyone – both for and against the settlement. In my opinion this is a fair settlement offer and provides everyone with an opportunity to move forward with their lives in a positive way.

  7. Erin Goulais says:

    thank you for this clarification. it is a very important point, yet this settlement to me doesn’t seem like a good idea, as it is at this point. let me tell you why.
    in this current agreement the 80/20 standard is still in place. this should not be there, and it absolutely should be addressed.
    Also, and please let me know if i have it wrong, i am open to dialog and hope you are as well, once the settlement is paid for the territory in question, does it then become their land? this should not be so. this is not the same as discussing what is our territory and being compensated for that, this is once they pay compensation for it then it is often viewed as transferring of ownership. that is also not a good idea, ever, under any circumstance.
    third, once this compensation is paid there is the municipal idea of taxation. We do not pay taxes, yet the third party (the people that live in the “dispute” area) do. if the tax issue is not addressed and written out in our settlement then we will be pitted against the third party to deal with it. when in reality it would be between the Canadian Government and the said third party. is absolutely should be considered, as our current settlement doesn’t cover the taxes that will effect us in many ways.
    For these above reasons i think the settlement number offered is incredibly too low and in no way should be considered without these proper changes. we would be getting ripped off and selling ourselves too low, in my opinion.
    thank you
    🙂

    • Bob Goulais says:

      Great questions, Erin. To be clear, there is no land involved in this settlement. The land in question has already been surrendered under the 1850 Treaty. The question is what “should-have-been” set aside as the Nipissing No. 10 reserve. We would require some land or financial compensation as a result of this error. Unfortunately, because the land in question is either Crown land or municipal property, and the Province and Municipalities of West Nipissing or North Bay are not a part of the negotiations, a cash agreement was reached in lieu of land. We are being well-compensated for loss of use, inflation as well as fair market value for the land. We are getting the fair market value plus more!! The agreement does say whatever land we choose to purchase back, it can be added to the reserve. Once the land is returned to reserve land, it will no longer be subject to taxation. To be clear, there is no option under the settlement for land. Without an agreement, the only option for force a land settlement is federal court. Courts have historically not included land in these kinds of settlement. So the reality is, we roll the dice and hope the court provides us more that $129 million. It’s really a long shot. There is no financial, legal or strategic benefit to a “no” vote. On the other hand, despite your opinion, when it comes to a land claim, this settlement is truly off-the-charts. For a boundary claim, it is absolutely unheard of in Canada. This is an incredible opportunity for our current and future generations. There is a lot we can do with these funds: buying more reserve land in more “hospitable” areas; (The boundary lands in question are mainly is swampy, inaccessible areas.) Treatment programs and facilities for prescription drug abusers; Community youth programming; Skills development programs; our community vision of an elementary school and long-term care facility.

  8. Erin Goulais says:

    Also, I recognize all the hard work and give credit and homage to all those involved, past and present. This is very a very big deal and although this has been a long work in progress and I’m sure all involved are eager to see this settled, as am I, this hard work shouldn’t be sold short. it is not ready today. Please take my above comments into consideration.
    and again chi-miigwetch for all the hard work put into this, we would not be in this great position if it wasn’t for you all involved and your dedication and persistence.

    chi-miigwetch
    chi-miigwetch
    chi-miigwetch
    chi-miigwetch