New reserve for Northwestern Ontario First Nation
The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, joined with Chief Yvette Metansinine and the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario's Minister of Northern Development and Mines, today to celebrate the creation of a new reserve for the Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek (AZA) First Nation in Northwestern Ontario.
"This announcement rectifies a situation from the 1920s, in which one of four Bands was left out and did not receive reserve land. The Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek First Nation can now move forward and feel proud of their heritage," said Minister Strahl.
Recognized as a separate band in 1922 when the original Nipigon Band was divided into four bands, the AZA First Nation (formally known as Lake Nipigon Ojibway First Nation) was the only one of the four not to receive a reserve land base. In order to address this unique circumstance, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the AZA First Nation entered into a tripartite agreement for the creation of a new reserve in 2005.
"The creation of a reserve land base has been a dream for the people of Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan since the signing of the Robinson Superior Treaty in 1850," said Chief Metansinine. "The Lake Nipigon reserve will provide us with the home we need to revive our culture, our traditions and our language. We will create a community that honours the past as we look to the future to capture opportunities that will help us build a prosperous community for future generations, all the while managing resources in a respectful manner that is consistent with our traditions and values."
"The creation of this reserve is our first step toward creating a model community for members," continued Chief Metansinine. "As we move forward, we will use best practices in community planning and seek to build upon our partnerships with government departments."
The reserve was created under the provisions of the Land and Larger Land Base Framework Agreement, which was established in 1991 to address the circumstances of First Nations with small reserves or no reserves. The Province of Ontario transferred 1270 hectares (12.7 square kilometres) of provincial Crown lands to Canada to create the reserve. Lake Nipigon reserve is located on the south shore of Partridge Lake, north of Highway 11 between Beardmore and Geraldton, approximately 2 ½ hours northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
"This is an example of how building stronger relationships with our First Nation partners can foster real and lasting change," said Michael Bryant, Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "The establishment of this reserve will stimulate economic development and help build a brighter future for the Animbiigoo Zaagi'igan Anishinaabek First Nation."
The AZA First Nation has 323 registered members. As a result of reserve creation, the First Nation will be eligible for new economic development opportunities to be determined following the completion of a socio-economic study.