Treaties and Land Claims: Current Problems

Land Claims

July 16, 2021


1492 Land Back Lane

Brantford Expositor – In late June, the developers sent letters to about 180 homebuyers saying that, having exhausted their legal options and with no prospect of the occupation ending, the company was scrapping the planned subdivision and cancelling all purchase agreements. The company has filed a $200-million class-action lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada, the province, the OPP, the Ontario Federation of Labour, land defenders and their supporters. The lawsuit alleges material and reputational damage to the company and seeks financial restitution for Foxgate and the McKenzie homebuyers. Liske said the suit has not yet been served to any of the defendants and that the company has until September to do so.

March 30, 2021


1492 Land Back Lane

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) spent $16.3 million in just half a year policing the 1492 Land Back Lane protests. Funds covered salaries, round-the-clock overtime, food, hotels, travel costs, supplies, equipment, building rentals and other related expenses between July 2020 and January 2021.

October 22, 2020


1492 Land Back Lane

Toronto Star – Ontario court issues a permanent injunction in favour of Foxgate and Haldimand County against the Haudenosaunee protesters. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, Six Nations traditional government, does not recognize the jurisdiction or authority of the Six Nations’ Elected Council, the colonial construct of The Indian Act The Six Nations Elected Council has been fighting for resolution to existing land claims on the Haldimand Tract since1980 managing to resolve one out of 29 submitted claims between 1980 -1995. Given the failure of the Claims process the band took the federal and provincial governments to court that has been languishing in the court system with a trial date scheduled for 2022. This is where Haldimand County believes the protesters should seek resolution. The reality is that there should be no development until the land claim is resolved. If the Haudenosaunee can wait over 200 years and especially over the last 40 years, they can wait a few years themselves.

September 17, 2020


1492 Land Back Lane

EyeOpener – Protesters have occupied so-called Mackenzie Meadows, bordering the town of Caledonia and the Six Nations reserve, since July 19 in opposition to the housing development of the neighbourhood by Foxgate Developments Inc. The site is under the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee First Nation as one of their last unceded territories under the 200-year-old Haldimand Proclamation. Today, it has become an encampment for protestors, featuring art such as a shipping container spray painted with the site’s unofficial title: 1492 Land Back Lane. ‘

September 12, 2020


1492 Land Back Lane

Toronto Star – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) armed with a court injunction arrested 26 people including 2 journalists and an Indigenous academic researcher.

September 12, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

1492 Land Back Lane dispute over proposed development near Caledonia and Six Nations returns to court

A school bus blocks the roadway which is near a construction site at the centre of an Indigenous land dispute in Caledonia, Ont., on Thursday, October 29, 2020. The legal saga around the two-year occupation of a proposed development site by a group of Indigenous people continued in Ontario court on Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

NationTalk: Newmarket Today – The legal saga around a two-year occupation of a proposed development site by a group of Indigenous people returned to an Ontario court on Monday with another attempt to remove the protesters. The company behind the planned housing development near Caledonia, Ont., and Six Nations of the Grand River is again asking a Haldimand County judge to order the demonstrators permanently off the land.

The group that has occupied the site since the summer of 2020 has maintained that the land in question is on unceded Haudenosaunee territory.

A lawyer for Foxgate Developments argued Monday that a permanent order is needed so the development can proceed after two years of delays. “Interim injunctions haven’t been followed,” Paul DeMelo said. “The permanent injunction is necessary so that the lands can hopefully be returned and the development can proceed.”

DeMelo argued that there hasn’t been a direct challenge filed in the case to his client’s legal rights to develop the land and that the court must decide whether the occupiers have a right to halt the development.

Proceedings began Monday with lawyers disagreeing on the legal status of past orders that asked the protesters to leave two years ago.

Lawyers for Skyler Williams, who has acted as spokesman for the Indigenous group that has set up camp on the site, argued that injunctions issued in the past are no longer in place, and a permanent injunction can’t be issued as a result. But DeMelo argued that there is a valid interlocutory injunction in place that would allow for a permanent injunction.

The latest legal chapter comes after the province’s Court of Appeal overturned a previous permanent injunction last year, finding the judge who issued it discriminated against Williams, who was named in it.

That court said the Superior Court judge who heard the October 2020 motion erred when he denied Williams’ rights to procedural fairness. Justice Paul Sweeny also raised questions Monday about whether the matter would be complicated by related ongoing legal proceedings.

Sweeny and lawyers for all sides decided to continue with the scheduled hearing as a bifurcated trial, separate from the other matter.

Haldimand County is also making arguments for an injunction to remove the protesters.  DeMelo said the federal government sent a letter saying it would not make submissions in the case.

The case was scheduled to continue in court on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2022.  Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

September 16, 2020


2010 First Nations and Métis Consultation Policy Framework

Global News – The Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S) has launched a lawsuit against the province claiming the government is not doing enough to consult with the Métis over issues like land use, and commercial activities like trapping and fishing. The statement of claim…also says the provincial policy on consultation, issued in 2010, doesn’t recognize Métis assertions of Aboriginal title to land and resources. Last year Métis in Saskatchewan and Alberta filed a massive land claim, seeking roughly 122,000 square kilometers in northwest Saskatchewan and northeast Alberta. The claim seeks redress for land lost to the Métis more than a century ago through the scrip system (stripped Métis of most of their land in the 1880’s after the Northwest Rebellion and acknowledged by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013)

The lawsuit also points to what it says is a lack of consultation by the province when issuing mineral interests within land claimed by the Métis. The “2010 First Nations and Métis Consultation Policy Framework” allows the government to determine if consultation should be triggered and how much is merited. The MN-S is asking the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan for several declarations, including that the 2010 policy is invalid and that the province’s continued reliance on it avoids duty to consult and is dishonourable.

July 11, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Abandoning Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation Land Claim negotiation

The Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation Canada were on the verge of initialing a land claim agreement. Then on June 12, 2019, without warning, the Minister put off signing and claimed more consultation was required with Indigenous peoples in NWT. At the negotiating table, Canada had previously agreed to initial the agreement while these NWT talks continued.
Sayisi Dene First Nation and Northlands Denesuline First Nation have been forced to file an Application for Judicial Review of Minister Carolyn Bennett’s decision shutting down negotiations. After a public demonstration in Ottawa on June 19, 2019 and nearly a month of repeated requests, Minister Bennett has refused to meet or explain her action. The court application was filed to meet a legal deadline.

October 21, 2021


Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci and Hydro-Québec agreement

The Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci (CAW) and Hydro-Québec are proud to announce the signature of a master agreement that … marks the beginning of structured discussions that could lead to one or more agreements on matters of common interest.
• economic spinoffs such as contract opportunities, but also job opportunities and training initiatives for community members
• potential benefits with regard to Hydro-Québec’s activities in Nitaskinan, which the community considers its ancestral land.
• concerns regarding the Hydro-Québec equipment on their territory
• Finally, the parties will address Hydro-Québec’s upcoming projects … particularly with a view to setting up tailored information and consultation processes and identifying appropriate economic, environmental, social or cultural measures associated with the projects.

July 16, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Budget Cuts Claims Research Units

Letter to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada:

The National Claims Research Directors – NCRD is a national body of specialized technicians who manage thirty-five Claims Research Units (CRUs) mandated to research and develop specific claims against the federal government. Collectively we have developed and advanced over 1500 claims. We repeat our calls for the immediate restoration of stable research funding to pre-cut levels. Failing to restore funding is widely viewed as a continuation of Harper-era dishonourable actions that utterly contradicts principles of reconciliation.

You have repeatedly issued empty reassurances about the importance of Indigenous-Crown relations while simultaneously impoverishing the current process: lack of resources is preventing Canada from meeting legislated timelines for claims review, denying First Nations access to the Specific Claims Tribunal, and jeopardizing negotiations. They also undermine your government’s commitment to claims resolution and your commitments to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, where Indigenous peoples right to access justice for historical losses is paramount.

We request now that you respond to our letter immediately, explaining your government’s current allocation of funds and indicating how this drastic underfunding of specific claims research will be addressed.

August 30, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

Federal and Ontario governments settle decades-long flooding claim with First Nation

Globe And Mail:

More than a century after a small First Nation in Northwestern Ontario was flooded by a dam on the Rainy River, the community has reached an $84-million land claim settlement with the federal and provincial governments.

Chief Janice Henderson of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation said the recent settlement is life-changing for her community, and now that it’s finally complete, the nation will focus on creating economic wealth, building infrastructure and generating opportunities on-reserve and off-reserve.

“The sky’s the limit right now,” she said.

The Mitaanjigamiing First Nation Treaty 3 Flooding Claim – between Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, a Treaty No. 3 community north of Fort Frances, Ont., and the provincial and federal governments – was settled after nearly 30 years of effort.

Canada will pay $45.05-million while Ontario will add $39.4-million.

The province accepted the claim for negotiations in 2003 with Ottawa following suit in 2009. The claim was in response to the “unauthorized and uncompensated flooding from a dam built in the early 1900s across the Rainy River,” according to a statement last week from the province’s Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. The reserve lands have continued to deal with flooding for more than a century.

The Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, which translates to “where a smaller lake flows into a bigger lake,” was formerly known as Stanjikoming. Its name changed in 2009.

Waters once flowed into Stanjikoming Bay through a small channel, about three to five metres wide, from Rainy Lake, where thick brush lined the entryway into a bountiful land of manoomin – a type of wild rice – and wildlife that people had to push their canoes through with poles. The secluded area attracted people from around the region.

But the dam built on the river in the early 1900s near the United States border flooded the channel and altered the landscape into shallow, sandy shores, disrupting ducks and geese and destroying the traditional manoomin yield.

The community relocated in the late 1980s to an isolated location, said Ms. Henderson. Today, there are nearly 200 members of a younger demographic, about half living on-reserve.

Ms. Henderson said she is following in her father’s footsteps, former chief Allan Henderson, who filed the original claim against the government in 1994 for the future generations. He died in 1997.

She said the community is looking at economic development opportunities off-reserve, perhaps expanding across the province.

“We’ve been very careful in how we’ve developed our community since we’ve moved,” Ms. Henderson said. Band members have developed and approved community plans over the years, providing direction to the chief and council leadership.

She said there aren’t many elders left in the community, so a key focus will be on retaining their culture and language, and practising their treaty rights.

Ms. Henderson said the majority of the settlement funds have been deposited into a trust account called Gegabekamig, which translates to “it is forever” in Anishinaabemowin, set up by the community when it settled its Treaty Land Entitlement claim in 2018.

Like other treaties, the 1873 treaty between Mitaanjigamiing and the Crown did not account for all members entitled to land as per the terms of the agreement. The Treaty Land Entitlement process accounts for land owing to the First Nation, and provides opportunities for communities like Mitaanjigamiing to expand and develop.

Canada has resolved more than 590 specific land claims with First Nations since 1973, including at least 183 since 2016 worth $8.9-billion.

Jaime Battiste, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Crown and Indigenous Relations, said the federal government acknowledges Canada’s failure to protect the community’s lands and is committed to rebuilding trust.

Ms. Henderson said the nation will use the interest from the trust fund to further what has already been accomplished, including surface treatment for the community’s access road, fibre internet, housing and new infrastructure.

“We need a daycare,” she said about what’s possibly next. “We need a new band office, administration building.”

November 15, 2021


Grassy Narrows Land Declaration

Toronto Star – The government was knowingly using an outdated and inaccurate map (30 years old), members of First Nations charge, green-lighting drilling and excavation areas where the residents say they go for moose hunting, picking berries and camping. The First Nations says it has provided the government with an updated map of the area – what is now called an Indigenous Sovereignty and Protected Area – multiple times over the last decade. “Our land and our way of life are already at the breaking point because of the ongoing impacts of residential schools, hydro dams, mercury poisoning and clear-cut logging, said JB Fobister, Grassy Narrows spokesperson.” Mining, he added, would “further fragment and degrade” the environment.

April 12, 2021


Grassy Narrows Land Declaration

Toronto Star – The Ontario government has allowed up to 4,000 mining claims in Grassy Narrow territory ignoring the “the land declaration that Grassy Narrows enacted in 2018 to ban industrial or mining activities on their territories?” Since the land declaration “the area covered by mineral claims has expanded fourfold, spreading across forest, rivers and lakes…Grassy Narrows leaders and community leaders are troubled that the Ontario government seems to be rolling out the red carpet to mining prospectors while dragging its feet in investigating and excavating the two alleged toxic mercury dump sites near a paper mill property downstream in Dryden, Ontario.

The mining claims fall within the boundary of a proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area that Grassy Narrows has been working with the federal government to setup. Trillium Gold, a BC-based mining company has proposed what would be the “the largest mining exploration project by far in its territory”. The establishment of an IPCA is aimed to safeguard Indigenous rights – including the right to exercise free, prior and informed consent – while maintaining biodiversity and securing a space where communities can practice indigenous ways of life. The chief called for an immediate freeze on claim staking and mining exploration on the territory until the crisis is over. (COVID-19 pandemic)

June 9, 2021


Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area – Pleasantville

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs – are demanding that all work by Atlantic Gold be stopped in Pleasantfield, Nova Scotia and that no further exploratory or drilling permits be approved by Nova Scotia Lands & Forestry or the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines for this area. The Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office has told the Province and Atlantic Gold that Lake Rossignol and the surrounding landscape has tremendous cultural significance to the Mi’kmaq, and that no work – exploratory or otherwise – should take place in this area.

“This area is far too sensitive – for numerous cultural and archaeological reasons – for any work to be done here,” said Chief Deborah Robinson, Governance Lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. “We are opposed to any work being conducted in the Pleasantfield area.” The Mi’kmaq are concerned that any exploratory work in this area could open the door for future developments in the Pleasantfield area and, have stressed that this is unacceptable. With support from Mi’kmaw organizations, the Assembly has been working to see the Mersey area is listed as an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area. The Mi’kmaw communities in the area, the Assembly and Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office have been clear that no work should occur in an area of such high cultural importance to the Mi’kmaw Nation.

“Our ancestors spent a lot of time along the shores of Lake Rossignol, and along the Mersey River which is well documented in our stories and in archaeological records,” said Keptin Jeff Purdy, Mi’kmaq Grand Council. “We continue to have many significant cultural connections to this area today and this is why we want to see this area protected.”

March 30, 2021


Innu lawsuit against Hydro-Québec

CISION – The Penobscot Nation of Maine has joined the Innu of Labrador and 5 Québec First Nations and the Innu of Québec to call on President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau to block Hydro-Québec’s plan to build a transmission line to Massachusetts. Their letter calls for a halt to initiatives that would see the state-owned utility make billions of dollars in profits without consulting or compensating the First Nations on whose ancestral territories its electricity is produced and through which it will be transported

December 3, 2020


Innu lawsuit against Hydro-Québec

WEMOTACI – Five First Nations in Québec, the Innu of Pessamit, the Atikamekw of Wemotaci, and the Anishnabeg of Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik – have joined the Innu Nation of Labrador to oppose Hydro-Quebec’s massive new power transmission corridor to the United States. In two separate briefs addressed to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), the six Indigenous Nations expressed their opposition to the construction and operation, by Hydro-Québec, of a transmission line dedicated to the export of electricity to New England. The CER has the power to block the project if it does not comply with constitutional requirements. The First Nations and Innu “denounce the administrative strategies… to circumvent the framework provided by the Constitution Act of 1982, contravene its own Environment Quality Act, ignore the jurisprudence established by the Supreme Court, and flout Canada’s international commitments”.

The projects that Hydro-Québec has built on the lands of our First Nations have enabled Québec to industrialize and have provided the majority of its citizens with a better quality of life. However, the indicators of well-being for First Nations communities continue to be comparable to those of least developed countries – a reality that has created and sustained a system in which there are two classes of citizens. To add insult to injury, Hydro-Québec now expects to sell electricity produced on our lands to the United States, and to thereby improve the well-being of American citizens, without even thinking of compensating us for the damage it has caused to our ancestral lands since the beginning of the 20th century. This will not happen without our consent!

October 6, 2020


Innu lawsuit against Hydro-Québec

Canadian Press – Innu Nation of Labrador has filed a lawsuit against Hydro-Quebec seeking $4 billion in compensation for the ecological and cultural damage caused by the damming of the upper Churchill River in the early 1970s. They call the Churchill River’s large watershed Nitassinan. The river itself is called Mishtashipu. The Innu never ceded their land to European settlers and no treaties were signed, lawyer Nancy Kleer said. “They have Aboriginal title to this land,” Kleer said, noting that a formal land claim process started in the 1990s.

Senior Innu leaders said Tuesday the provincially owned utility illegally took land from the Indigenous group without consultation in the late 1960s as construction started on the Churchill Falls hydroelectric project in central Labrador. “Hydro-Quebec has made billions of dollars from that contract, (but) it has not paid us a single penny for the damage to our land or damage to our lives, and to our people,” Grand Chief Etienne Rich told a news conference in St. John’s. “We are extremely disappointed in Hydro-Quebec’s refusal to take responsibility for what they have done to our people and our land.

The massive hydroelectric project led to the creation of the Smallwood Reservoir, which flooded 6,500 square kilometres of traditional Innu territory, destroying fishing and hunting grounds, caribou habitat and ancestral graves, Rich said. The deal to build the Churchill Falls hydroelectric project was signed between Newfoundland and Quebec in 1969, and the project was completed in 1974. As well, Kleer said officials from Hydro-Quebec have for decades refused to negotiate any kind of settlement with the Innu. She said the $4 billion claim is based on calculations suggesting Hydro-Quebec has earned $80 billion in profit from the project, with another $70 billion expected by the time the power contract with Newfoundland and Labrador expires in 2041.

May 8, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Legacy of 1907 illegal land transfer leaves Peguis First Nation struggling with recurring flooding

Peguis FN was moved off of their original territory through an illegal land transfer in 1907 to their current location on Fisher River where they have been subject to continuous flooding.

Toronto Star: The marshy delta of Manitoba’s Fisher River was not the original home of Peguis First Nation. But having been relocated there more than a century ago after an illegal land transfer, and facing increased flooding in recent decades, the community is hoping to get some permanent infrastructure for protection.

“We have asked for a diversion (channel). We have asked for ring diking. We have asked for elevated roads … but nothing has occurred,” Chief Glenn Hudson said in an interview from the community that has been swamped again this year. A reservoir upstream that might hold back water during flooding would be another option, he said

More than 1,400 of 3,500 residents have left the reserve since the Fisher River spilled its banks last week. Most have gone to Winnipeg, 60 kilometres to the south. Hundreds of homes have been surrounded by water or have been flooded. Residents who have stayed are trying to keep homes protected with sandbags and are ferrying food and people by boats.

Manitoba faces the threat of flooding almost every year. Many communities are protected by dikes, diversion channels or reservoirs. The town of Morris in the Red River Valley, with a much smaller population than Peguis, is one of many with a ring dike that can keep the community dry even when surrounding farmland and roads are submerged.

Hudson, who has been chief for all but two of the last 15 years, said the federal and provincial governments have been in talks about possible permanent flood protection. The federal government indicated Friday it is willing to look at permanent protection.

“There is a history of flooding in this community and we have some important work to do once we get through this crisis period to talk about the future of supporting Peguis in resiliency efforts,” Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said in Ottawa.

Peguis was originally the St. Peter’s reserve and was situated on good agricultural land closer to Winnipeg. The federal government did a land transfer in 1907 that resulted in the First Nation being moved to its current location. Peguis has other smaller reserves as well. The federal government conceded in 1998 that the transfer was illegal. The two sides reached a settlement 11 years later.

Hudson said drainage improvements upstream since the 1970s have made things worse by allowing water to flow to Peguis more quickly. The federal government has provided help to flood-proof some of the most vulnerable homes and has cost-shared a study with Manitoba.

“The … study concluded mitigation measures were possible, but would likely cost several hundred million dollars and would likely not prevent all types of flooding,” Matthew Gutsch, a spokesman for Indigenous Services Canada, wrote in an email.

December 1, 2021


Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

APTN- The chiefs of Wolastoqey Nation have added to their lawsuit against the province of New Brunswick, this time adding a number of corporations for conducting business on their territory without consent…the chiefs said that the corporations operate on “20 percent of the more than five million hectares identified in the claim as the traditional lands of the Wolastoqey in New Brunswick.

“These private companies are beneficiaries of the land, water, and resources that were illegally taken from us,” says Patricia Bernard, chief of Matawaskiye First Nation. “This is our traditional, unceded and un-surrendered land and we are owed compensation for the last two hundred years of land and resource theft.” The corporations named Tuesday are include J.D. Irving, Limited and “18 of its subsidiaries or related entities;” NB Power; Acadian Timber; Twin Rivers Paper; HJ Crabbe & Sons; and A.V. Group.

Today, the Wolastoqey chiefs filed a new version of their title claim, focusing on major forestry companies that occupy traditional lands. The lawsuit now includes major forestry companies including J.D. Irving and the province’s power utility over exploration on traditional lands without consent.

October 15, 2021


Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

Government of New Brunswick – GNB new policy on territorial land acknowledgment which forbids GNB staff from issuing territorial or title acknowledgments, is purported to be in partial response to the Wolastoqey title claim. We were forced to file a title claim because our rights continue to be ignored by GNB. Now, in response to this, the Province seeks to further trample our rights and erase us from the history of this province.
We have unceded Aboriginal title in the province of New Brunswick. That is a historical fact that the provincial government is simply going to have to come to terms with as representatives of the Crown here in New Brunswick.

October 5, 2020


Peace and Friendship Treaties 1725 & 1778

NationTalk – The six Wolastoqey Communities in New Brunswick – Matawaskiye (Madawaska), Neqotkuk (Tobique), Wotstak (Woodstock), Pilick (Kingsclear), Sitansisk (St. Mary’s) and Welamukotuk (Oromocto) – announced they will be filing a lawsuit seeking the Court’s recognition of the Wolastoqey Nation’s title to lands in New Brunswick. Between 1725 and 1778, the Wolastoqey Nation negotiated and entered into Treaties with the Crown, known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties. The Crown did not honour the Treaties, and took Wolastoqey lands without consent, and pushed the Wolastoqey people into six small communities along the river. They have carved up the land and given it to private landowners, and kept for themselves all benefits in the form of taxes, royalties, leases and fees.

They have acted as if they have sole jurisdiction over the land and this is simply legally not the case,” said Chief Tim Paul of Wotstak. “You cannot give away something that is not yours to give. Yet for nearly 300 years, ignoring agreements signed nation to nation in black and white, this is what the governments of that time and the succeeding governments of New Brunswick and Canada have done.” “Meanwhile, many of our people live in poverty,” continued Chief Gabriel Atwin of Pilick. “Canada and New Brunswick and the preceding governments had a fiduciary duty to protect our lands. They did not honour those duties. And our people have suffered because of that breach. Even to this day they refuse to recognize what they have done and we are filing this lawsuit to ask the courts to recognize what the Crown has done.”

August 10, 2021

Peepeekisis Cree Nation

Government of Canada – The Peepeekisis Cree Nation and the Government of Canada have concluded their negotiated settlement to resolve the File Hills Colony Specific Claim.

The century-old claim concerned Canada’s breach of fiduciary obligations when it implemented the File Hills Farm Colony Scheme with its first transfer and settlement of industrial school graduates onto the Peepeekisis Cree Nation’s reserve without the informed and willing consent of Peepeekisis Cree Nation in 1898. The Colony Scheme included providing parcels of prime agricultural Peepeekisis reserve lands without the Nation’s consent. In creating and implementing the Colony Scheme, Canada breached its fiduciary duty to the Nation by failing to protect the Nation’s interest in the land and not providing any compensation to the Nation. The historic and ongoing harm that the Colony Scheme caused to the Peepeekisis Nation created community divisions and animosity between families and members. The legacy of the Colony Scheme continues to impact the Nation to this day.

Under the settlement, Canada will provide Peepeekisis Cree Nation with $150 million in total compensation, with the option to acquire up to 18,720 acres of land and for said land to be added to reserve in accordance with all applicable laws and Canada’s policies and procedures respecting reserve creation.

August 5, 2020


Rights to ancestral territories

NationTalk – The Innu First Nation of Pessamit and the Atikamekw First Nation of Wemotaci (Province of Quebec) are joining forces to put an end to the stranglehold of the Quebec government and Hydro-Québec on their traditional territories. They mean to obtain compensation for production facilities, reservoirs and transmission lines set up without their consent by threatening to derail a project to run a high-voltage transmission line through Maine to Massachusetts.

Currently, 36% of the total hydroelectric power installed by Hydro-Québec comes from Innu, Atikamekw and Anishnabeg traditional territories, protected by ancestral and treaty rights that have never been respected. In total, 33 production structures, 130 dams and dikes, 10,400 km2 of reservoirs, tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission, distribution and road lines have been illegally installed. These facilities continue to be operated by Hydro-Québec in violation of the rights recognized by the Constitution Act of 1982 and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada.

For nearly a century, six Innu, Atikamekw and Anishnabeg communities have borne the brunt of successive hydroelectric developments that have allowed Quebec to industrialize and the majority of its citizens to access a better quality of life. Conversely, these successive and massive hydroelectric developments on their traditional territories have never translated into a better quality of life for the members of the communities most directly and negatively impacted. Quite the contrary! All internationally recognized well-being indicators are largely unfavourable for them compared to the entire population of Quebec and are comparable to those of third world countries.

in 1996. The Supreme Court of Canada then definitively put an end to Quebec’s claims that First Nations had no ancestral rights over the territory of the province. Since then, successive provincial governments have embarked on a strategy of perpetually delaying enforcement of the Supreme Court ruling. In doing so, Quebec scandalously self-awarded itself a suspended sentence.

The government of Quebec and Hydro-Québec have never had and still do not have the moral and constitutional legitimacy to operate 33 of the 63 hydroelectric production structures since they have never consulted and compensated the First Nations concerned. They have even less right to sell electricity in the United States when 13,200 MW, or 36% of the installed capacity in Quebec out of a total of 36,700 MW, has been usurped from the said First Nations. And if the government turns a deaf ear, Pessamit and Wemotaci will do their utmost to derail the project and ensure a resounding NO to NECEC! (New England Clean Energy Connect)

April 20, 2022


Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

NationTalk: Robinson Huron Treaty Territory — The Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund (RHTLF) leadership, Ontario and Canada officials have established a negotiation table to find common ground for resolving the annuities litigation outside of court.

The Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have outstanding litigation against both Canada and Ontario relating to treaty annuities. There is much work to be done, with a spirit of cooperation and partnership, to advance these important discussions and find a good way forward towards a negotiated resolution.

“We are pleased to be in a place where we are talking about negotiating a resolution to our annuities case outside of the court. We have always known that reconciliation will not happen in the courtroom,” said Chief Dean Sayers.

Ogimaa Duke Peltier added “It has been a long journey to get to this point and we are ready to work with our treaty partners toward a settlement. We remain grounded in our commitment to ensure the Robinson Huron Treaty is implemented.”

January 7, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

CBC – Ontario will appeal the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuity Case to the Supreme Court. The case was upheld by both the Ontario Superior Court and then the Ontario Court of Appeal. The 21 First Nations involved said that amount needs to be re-negotiated, and the courts have agreed.

November 5, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

The Manitoulin Expositor – The Ontario Court of Appeal releases judgment on Ontario’s Stage 1 and 2 in Robinson–Huron Treaty Annuities Case that affirms much of the trial decision and only disagrees with the trial judgment on a limited number of issues. As we explain, we unanimously reject the majority of the arguments raised on appeal. We dismiss Ontario’s appeal from the Stage Two proceedings in its entirety …” “Our initial analysis of the judgement is that the Court of Appeal affirms the enforceability of the treaty and the obligation of the Crown to increase the annuities,” said Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation. “This decision shows yet again that Ontario must drop these lengthy and unnecessary appeals.”

August 16, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

Wawa News – The Government of Canada has completed their mandating process and are prepared to negotiate and settle the ongoing annuities case. Canada has stated that the negotiation and settlement process requires participation from the Government of Ontario. “Now, we need the province to come to the table to make this settlement happen,” said Chief Sayers. “It is time for Ontario to honour the escalator clause and engage in negotiations on behalf of all people we have welcomed on our lands.”

April 28, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

Wawa News – the Ontario Court of Appeal concluded its hearing of the Government of Ontario’s appeal of the Stage 1 decision in the Robinson Treaties annuities case. The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision on the Stage 1 appeal, which it will likely release in the months following its hearing of the Stage 2 appeal.

July 8, 2020

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

Manitoulin Expositor – Since the Ontario Government launched their appeal of the Dec. 24, 2018 decision, the Superior Court has sided with the Anishinabek Nation in two of three challenges:

Phase 1: Established that the original treaty created a ‘sui generis fiduciary relationship’ (meaning the colonial government was required to manage the lands and act in the best interests of the First Nations, a relationship that was specifically applicable to this case

Phase 2: Justice Hennessey rejected the crown’s various arguments that it should not have to increase annuities or make up for lost payments in past. These arguments included a statute of limitations—that too much time has passed between the last annuity increase and it should not be responsible for annuities before 1963, and that the Crown may be ‘immune’ from being sued.

Phase 3 – Final phase addresses the compensation issue (TBD)

January 22, 2019

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron and Superior Treaties, 1850

The Government of Ontario appealed the Robinson-Huron and Robinson Superior Treaties Superior Court decision around Annuities claims while at the same time negotiating with the 21 First Nations making up the Anishinabek people in northern Ontario. In her December ruling, Justice Patricia Hennessy wrote the annuities described in the treaties — which hadn’t been raised since 1874 — were meant as a mechanism to share the wealth from the treaty territory’s resources. “As the historical and cultural context demonstrates … the parties were and continue to be in an ongoing relationship,” wrote Hennessy. The government of Ontario disagrees but the Government of Canada does not.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III and is a document that set out guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories in parts of North America. The Royal Proclamation was clear that lands did not become available for settlement – known as public lands – until after a treaty with Aboriginal inhabitants.

“The treaties were entered into on a nation-to-nation basis; that is, in entering into the pre-Confederation treaties, the French and British Crowns recognized the Aboriginal nations as self-governing entities with their own systems of law and governance and agreed to respect them as such.” (source: Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples). Through the Treaty, the Lake Huron Chiefs and leaders of the Anishinabek signatory First Nations intended to protect the territory and establish relations. Contrary to what many Canadians believe, nothing has been given to our First Nations. In fact, it was our First Nations who agreed to share our resources with the newcomers, now Canadians. The Robinson-Huron Treaty intended to provide economic benefits for the First Nations parties to the Treaty in perpetuity. Significant wealth has been and continues to be generated from resource development within the Treaty territory.

June 23, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

Robinson-Huron Superior treaty annuity payments appeal heading to Supreme Court

Supreme Court to hear Ontario case on treaty payments to Anishinaabe

APTN: The Supreme Court of Canada says it will hear a legal battle over Crown payments to beneficiaries of two Robinson treaties which cover the upper Great Lakes in Ontario and 21 Anishinaabe bands.

The Ontario government sought to challenge a ruling by the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which found the Crown had violated the terms of its treaties with the Anishinaabe of the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior by capping its annual payments at $4 per person for more than a century. According to court documents, the annuity was raised to that amount in 1875 and has not changed since.

In its ruling last year, the appeal court said that while both the federal and provincial governments acknowledge the annuity should be increased in some way, “no steps have been taken to do so.” As a result, it found the Crown had violated the treaties’ promise to share the resource-based revenues from the territory.

It sent the case back to the trial judge to determine how much money is owed to the First Nations involved, and which government — provincial, federal, or both — would be responsible for that compensation.

The Robinson-Huron Treaty was signed in 1850 by Anishinaabe bands and the Crown.

It provides for the surrender of a large portion of what is now northern Ontario. In return, among other things, the treaty requires the Crown to make annual payments or annuities, to the Anishinaabe. The Crown promised to raise the treaty annuity “from time to time” if the territory began producing enough wealth to enable the increase “without incurring loss.”

But the annuity hasn’t gone up since 1875 when it was set at $4 per person, even though the characterization of the territory at the time as “notoriously barren and sterile” proved incorrect.

While the area contains vast timber and mineral wealth, which are under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government currently pays the annuity. It’s not clear when the case will be heard by the justices of the supreme court.

July 29, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Saugeen First Nation Treaty 72 signed 1854

Saugeen Ojibwat Nation – Ontario Superior Court ruled on SON’s claims: an Aboriginal title claim to parts of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay and a claim that the Crown breached its promise to protect forever parts of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula for SON. The claim to “waters” was denied based on a lack of evidence about exclusive and sufficient use at the time that the British Crown asserted sovereignty in 1763. The court agreed with SON that there was a treaty promise to protect the Peninsula for SON, and found that the Crown breached that treaty promise. She said that the Crown could have and should have done more to protect SON’s lands on the Peninsula. Because it didn’t, she found that the Crown breached its honour. The “remedy” phase is still to occur once any appeals have been heard.

October 15, 2020

Fed. Govt., ON

Saugeen First Nation Treaty 72 signed 1854

NationTalk – SON’s claim is that the Crown could have protected the Peninsula and misled SON in the negotiations of a surrender of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula. SON’s claim is that this was a breach of the Crown’s fiduciary duty. What SON is seeking is a declaration the Crown breached this duty. If successful, in a later phase of this claim, SON will be looking for recognition of its ownership interests in lands on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula that are still owned by Ontario or Canada or have not been bought and paid for by third parties (so, municipal roads, for example), as well as compensation. This second claim is against Ontario and Canada, but also includes several municipalities that own open and unopened roads on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula

September 25, 2020

Fed. Govt., ON

Saugeen First Nation Treaty 72 signed 1854

Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and Grey County – The Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation reached an agreement settling Grey County’s involvement in SON’s long-standing legal action in relation to parts of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula. The agreement settles a claim launched by SON approximately 25 years ago and is a positive step towards fostering further cooperation and reconciliation between Grey County and SON. Grey County is the first municipality involved in the claim to reach a settlement. SON will continue to pursue its legal claim against the five remaining municipalities and the federal and provincial governments. The full terms of the settlement are confidential, but Grey County has included the property in the settlement in the spirit of reconciliation, and without any admission of liability on the County’s part.

August 7, 2019

Fed. Govt., ON

Saugeen First Nation Treaty 72 signed 1854

CBC – In 2014, a tentative agreement between the First Nation and the Town of South Bruce Peninsula was proposed that would have recognized Saugeen’s ownership of the strip of beach. During the municipal election that fall, former councillor Janice Jackson unseated the previous mayor, running on a platform that the town would not settle out of court. She was re-elected in 2018.

A news release from Saugeen First Nation announcing that the summary judgment motion had been served said the South Bruce Peninsula mayor “is not interested in being neighbourly and is more concerned with politics than evidence.”

June 5, 2017

Fed. Govt., ON

Saugeen First Nation Treaty 72 signed 1854

Globe and Mail, Aug. 30, 2015, Updated June 5, 2017 – Resorting to the courts to resolve a long-standing land claim issue. The federal government supports the Saugeen First Nation claim which dates back to Treaty No. 72, signed in October, 1854. Surveying documents made at the time validate that the eastern boundary should have been approximately 1 ½ miles further northeast than today’s boundary.

August 9, 2021


Stalled Modern Treaty Negotiations

Canadian Human Rights Commission – This report is the second follow up study after the original 1993 investigation and the 2002 follow-up. The authors were asked to consider the status of the implementation of the 1993 and 2002 Reports and to look at more recent developments and their implications for the human rights of the Innu Nation.

Given these developments, it is particularly striking, and indeed disappointing, that in many respects the Innu situation has changed so little since the 2002 Report. Although progress has been made in the Modern Treaty negotiation, there is still no final agreement. The authors concur with the Innu Nation that the problems largely stem from a series of federal negotiating positions, examined in Section IV below. These negotiating positions are not only an obstacle to the just and timely resolution required of Canada they are, in some instances, fundamentally incompatible with Canada’s human rights obligations. In the authors’ view, the federal government has lost sight of the ultimate conclusion of the 1993 Report, which was reinforced in the 2002 report, that the Innu are owed a debt of justice for decades-long denial of their human rights.

This report also details significant ongoing concerns over the quality, appropriateness and accessibility of social services available to the Innu, including health, education and policing. The circumstances endured by the Innu would be shocking to most Canadians and are inconsistent with Canada’s commitments to ensuring substantive equality for all. The Innu have developed their own detailed strategies and plans to address these concerns, based on their own values and priorities, but have been repeatedly blocked by the reluctance of federal and provincial authorities to devolve authority to the Innu or to provide adequate funding to ensure the success of such initiatives.

A central problem has been specific federal government policies relating to Modern Treaty negotiations such as:

  • Extinguishment
  • Infringement
  • Contingent Rights
  • Fiscal Policy
  • Taxation

The report finds that systemic barriers are entrenched:

  1. First, the longstanding underfunding of infrastructure, services, and benefits relative to other First Nations and in relation to the real needs of their communities.
  2. Second is the resistance of the federal and provincial governments to fully break with their long history of imposing decisions on the Innu people without adequate knowledge of their culture and needs.
  3. Third is the failure to conclude a Modern Treaty settlement that would formalize recognition of Innu powers of self-government and fully restore control of the design and delivery of services to the Innu people.

The report examines specific barriers in:

  • Racism and Discrimination
  • Health Care
  • Child and Family Services
  • Education
  • Language and Culture
  • Housing
  • Policing and the Justice System
  • Economic Well-Being

Based on the above analysis, we make the following recommendations:


  1. The federal government should make a new commitment to the conclusion of the Modern Treaty negotiations with the Innu in accordance with its human rights obligations.
    • Such a commitment must ensure that the negotiations will result in remedying the wrong done to the Innu by the failure of the federal government to exercise its constitutional responsibilities to them for a period of 50 years.
    • This commitment must include abandoning the negotiating positions on issues such as: own source revenue, section 87 taxation benefits, extinguishment and non-contingent rights of self-government that currently stand in the way of a just resolution of the Modern Treaty negotiations.
    • In respect to the future fiscal relationship between Canada and the Innu, Canada should put into Treaty form a clear commitment to achieving substantive equality in areas such as child and family services, protection from violence, healthcare, housing, education, policing and the justice system, language and culture, and economic well-being.
    • Canada should aim to resolve negotiations for the conclusion of a Modern Treaty within three years of this Report.
  2. Pending resolution of the Modern Treaty negotiations, the federal government should take immediate action in collaboration with the Innu to resolve critical gaps in services. Such action must be consistent with its obligation to ensure substantive equality.
    • The federal government should resolve the Innu complaint now before the Canadian Human Rights Commission by agreeing to fully fund, at actual costs, those preventative measures deemed necessary and appropriate by Innu child and family service providers.
    • The federal government should work with Mamu Tshishkutamashutau, the Innu school board, to determine appropriate comparators that will enable the federal government to live up to its commitment to provide funding that is, at a minimum, comparable to that provided to provincially-funded schools in Newfoundland and Labrador
    • The federal and provincial governments should move quickly to address the immediate and critical needs identified by the Innu Round Table Secretariat, including those related to health, violence against Innu women and girls, housing, language and culture, policing and the justice system.
  3. The federal government should move quickly to complete negotiations on the decommissioning of the old village site on Iluikoyak Island, including the appointment of a project manager and providing adequate funding to allow the site to be adapted by the Innu according to their own priorities and values. This should be achieved with one year of this Report.
  4. The federal government should support anti-racism measures to address the systemic racism facing the Innu. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador should give high priority to advancing the work of the anti-racism working group.
  5. The provincial and federal governments must act to ensure the timely launch of the promised inquiry into the treatment of Innu children in provincial care.

August 3, 2022

Fed. Govt., SK

The Government of Canada Formally Apologizes to Peepeekisis Cree Nation for File Hills Colony Scheme

Crown – Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – The File Hills Colony Scheme, which was in place from 1898 to 1954, involved the involuntary relocation of graduates from residential schools and industrial schools in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the Peepeekisis Cree Nation’s reserve. The federal  Agent arbitrarily allocated agricultural land on reserve without the Nation’s consent and without compensation.

Just under a year ago, Peepeekisis Cree Nation and the Government of Canada concluded the settlement agreement regarding the File Hills Colony specific claim.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, formally apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada to Chief Francis Dieter and the members of the Peepeekisis Cree Nation for the File Hills Colony Scheme.

The Government of Canada will continue to work alongside Peepeekisis Cree Nation to build the relationship between our two nations for the benefit of all Canadians.


Our Nation and its Peoples have experienced harm, trauma and disruption in their ways of life through the forced imposition and transfer of graduates to Peepeekisis from other Nations. It not only displaced the Peoples of Peepeekisis from their lands but it also displaced the graduates from their homes and families in their own Nations. The File Hills Colony Scheme left a legacy of division, however through the recent settlement and the acknowledgement of its wrongdoing, Canada’s apology to our Nation and our People, can allow us to move forward on our path to healing our Nation and becoming one People of Peepeekisis.”

Chief Francis Dieter
Peepeekisis Cree Nation

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am truly sorry for the harm, trauma, and significant loss in agricultural land the community of Peepeekisis Cree Nation has experienced due to Canada’s role in the File Hills Colony Scheme. Acknowledging our past wrongs and addressing them is critical to building trust, and renewing and improving our relationship with Indigenous Peoples.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

Quick facts

  • Peepeekisis Nation is located in the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan.
  • On August 10, 2021, Peepeekisis Cree Nation and the Government of Canada announced the conclusion of the File Hills Colony Specific Claim, with compensation in the amount of $150,000,000, and additions to reserve for Peepeekisis to purchase.
  • Canada has a longstanding policy and process in place to resolve specific claims by negotiating settlements with First Nations. Since January 1, 2016, it has settled 210 specific claims with First Nations, totalling $6.4 billion in compensation.
  • In the fiscal year 2020-2021, 56 claims were filed with Canada and 36 claims were resolved.
  • Working in partnership with First Nations, Canada has resolved 625 specific claims since 1973.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Renelle Arsenault
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

CIRNAC Media Relations:
Phone: 819-934-2302

March 1, 2021


Yukon Regional Land Use Plans

The Narwhal – Two Yukon First Nations are renewing calls for a regional land use plan to be completed before any new development on their traditional territories is considered, including a mineral exploration project right next door to Tombstone Territorial Park. Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun recently sent letters to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board stating that approving the quartz exploration project, called Antimony Creek, without a land use plan for the Dawson region would violate their rights.

Regional land use plans determine what can and cannot occur in a particular region, essentially balancing conservation values, First Nations’ rights and industrial pursuits. These plans are created by independent commissions and signed off on by the Yukon government and affected First Nations. Creating them is a requirement under the Umbrella Final Agreement, which was signed by 11 First Nations in 1990 and paved the way for their self-governance. However, most First Nations have been waiting decades for these plans.

Antimony Creek is on Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Na-Cho Nyäk Dun territory and about 2.5 kilometres away from Tombstone, the territory’s flagship park that boasts towering, jagged peaks and abundant wildlife.

The project is in an area of great importance to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, whose citizens frequently harvest plants and wildlife for cultural and subsistence purposes. Traditional gravesites and heritage travelling routes are a short distance away from the project area.

Ryanwood Exploration Inc. didn’t return a request for comment. In its permit application, the company said First Nations haven’t been engaged, “but discussions will be conducted.” even though they plan up to 300 holes will be drilled per year, with some burrowing 10,000 metres into the earth, to find what appears to be gold and silver deposits. The 10-year project involves the construction of an access road, a network of trails and a drill pad. The company is proposing up to 883 round-trip helicopter flights on an annual basis to transport workers and supplies. According to GeoYukon, a Yukon government mapping tool, the project area covers roughly 86 square kilometres… Sue Thomas, a spokesperson for Yukon’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal in an email land use planning doesn’t negate tenure holders’ ability to develop their mineral claims.

“Development and/or exploration projects, like any other industrial and non-industrial uses, are allowed to continue while the planning process is underway,” she said.