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Canada, Ontario and Fort William First Nation Celebrate Historic Land Claim Settlement

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Canada, Ontario and Fort William First Nation Celebrate Historic Land Claim Settlement

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and Fort William First Nation announced today the final settlement of a 160-year-old land claim that will strengthen the economy and create jobs in northwestern Ontario.

MP Greg Rickford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, MPP David Zimmer, Ontario's Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation joined community members at a special ceremony at Fort William First Nation to celebrate the signing of this landmark agreement.

This settlement of the Boundary Claim includes about $149 million in financial compensation from Canada and approximately $5 million from Ontario. It also includes the transfer of provincial Crown lands on Lake Superior's Flatland Island and Pie Island to the federal government, to be set apart as reserve land for the Fort William First Nation. 

The process for resolving this claim involved a number of steps. In November 2010, the governments of Canada and Ontario and the Fort William First Nation announced that their negotiators had concluded talks on a settlement proposal. First Nation members approved the settlement in a vote on January 22, 2011, followed by approvals from Ontario and Canada.

In addition to the Boundary Claim, Canada and Fort William First Nation have also concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve the First Nation's Neebing Surrender Specific Claim. This financial settlement resolves a historic grievance dating back to the late 1850s and includes compensation of approximately $22 million. The settlement was approved by First Nation members in a vote on December 4, 2010, and by Canada on March 2, 2011.

Negotiated agreements honour legal obligations owed to First Nations, resolving longstanding disputes about land in a way that benefits First Nations and Ontario as a whole. Private land is not taken away from anyone to settle any claims. 

Land claim settlements create investment and business opportunities that can bring economic benefits and build new partnerships for First Nations and neighbouring communities. Settling claims is key to achieving reconciliation and rebuilding relationships with First Nation communities in Canada.

The Fort William First Nation has approximately 1,880 members and is located adjacent to Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario.

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“This settlement honours past commitments and opens up new investment and employment opportunities for the future that will significantly benefit the Fort William First Nation and local communities. This agreement shows that with determination and a willingness to work together, we can arrive at effective solutions to resolve longstanding issues.”

MP Greg Rickford

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

“We're building a better future for the Fort William community with this landmark agreement. This agreement means Fort William can invest in new jobs and create new economic opportunities for its members.”

Honourable Kathleen Wynne

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for Ontario

“I congratulate the Fort William First Nation on this historic achievement. The Ministry of Natural Resources values its close working relationship with the First Nation. I wish to thank everyone involved for their commitment and effort in achieving this settlement.”

Honourable Michael Gravelle

Ontario Minister of Natural Resources

“Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario worked hard to bring this claim home. Now we have the land and resources that our First Nation needs to create businesses, employment and other opportunities which will benefit our members and the entire Thunder Bay area. The promises in the Treaty of 1850 about our reserve have finally been fulfilled.”

Chief Peter Collins

Fort William First Nation

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