Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario have reached an historic negotiated settlement that resolves the First Nation’s Boundary Claim.
The settlement for the Boundary Claim includes the payment to Fort William First Nation (FWFN) of approximately $149 million in financial compensation from Canada and approximately $5 million from Ontario. The settlement provides for the transfer of approximately 4,655 hectares of Ontario Crown land to Canada to be set apart as reserve for FWFN. This is made up of Flatland Island and about 4,311 hectares on Pie Island including Le Pate Provincial Nature Reserve.
The transfer of the lands is subject to the terms of the settlement and the federal government’s Addition-to-Reserve policy. FWFN provided Canada and Ontario with releases to ensure the claim will never be re-opened. No private property was expropriated or taken away from anyone to settle this claim and existing access to private property is assured.
“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
Overview of the Boundary Claim
FWFN’s reserve is located in northwestern Ontario, adjacent to the city of Thunder Bay.
The Boundary Claim dated back to the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850. The basis of the First Nation’s claim was that the boundary of the Fort William reserve, as surveyed in 1853, did not reflect the First Nation’s understanding of the location and size of the reserve that was supposed to be set apart for its use under the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850.
The Boundary Claim was submitted to Canada in 1986 and to Ontario in 1987. After extensive research and legal reviews of the claim, Canada accepted the claim for negotiation in 1994 under its Specific Claims Policy. Ontario accepted the claim in 2000.
In November 2010, Canada, Ontario and the First Nation announced that their negotiators concluded talks on a settlement proposal for the Boundary Claim.
Steps to a Final Settlement
A number of steps needed to be completed after the November 2010 announcement before the claim could be settled.
The parties finalized the drafting of the text of the Settlement Agreement, which is a legally binding contract. The First Nation also completed its work on a Trust Agreement for the settlement. This Agreement sets out how the First Nation will use, manage and administer its settlement funds for the future benefit of its members.
The Settlement Agreement and Trust Agreement were approved by First Nation members in a vote that took place on January 22, 2011. The Settlement Agreement was then approved by Ontario at the end of January 2011 and by Canada in August of 2011. The Settlement Agreement took effect as soon as it was signed by all three parties.