Chief Albert Hunter of the Rainy Lake First Nations (http://rainyriver.firstnation.ca) stated in the press release ...
“In signing this agreement, we honour our past by remembering our ancestors and relatives who endured. We honour our present by paying homage to our community, our people, our leaders, and our elders who remain steadfast and proud. We honour our future by sustaining the future of our children, grandchildren and those yet born. We say to all that the legacy of the Rainy River First Nations will endure and flourish, that the spirit of renewal, of our determination and of our autonomy will likewise endure and flourish. We will continue to contribute to secure sustainable economies and to the shared values of our own citizenry and to those of our neighbours.”
Click here to read the press release on the INAC web site.
Click here to read the Fact Sheet - Rainy River First Nations' Land Claim Information Sharing and Consultations
Click here to read the backgrounder of Rainy River Land Claim
- In 1873, seven separate First Nations, now known as the Rainy River First Nations, signed Treaty #3 with the Government of Canada. Treaty #3 provided that the First Nations would receive an allocation of land for reserve land together with other rights and benefits. The Rainy River First Nations selected and accepted seven reserves which were surveyed in 1875.
- At the time that Treaty #3 was signed, Ontario maintained that land could not be set apart for reserve without Ontario's confirmation. A court decision in the 1880's supported Ontario's position. Ontario made the surrender of six of the seven Rainy River reserves a condition of its agreement to enact legislation to confirm all the remaining Treaty 3 reserves in Ontario.
- Canada agreed to obtain the surrenders and took a surrender for sale of the Reserves (except for Manitou Rapids Reserve) from the Rainy River First Nations in 1914-1915. The total land area involved in these surrenders (which is referred to as the "claim area") is approximately 46,269 acres or 72 square miles (18,725 hectares). Following the surrenders, five of the Rainy River First Nations were relocated to Manitou Rapids Reserve to join the two First Nations already residing at that reserve. Canada administratively amalgamated the seven First Nations into one First Nation in the 1960's.
- In September 1982, the Rainy River First Nations filed a claim with Canada and Ontario claiming that the reserves were wrongfully taken and that the First Nations had been subjected to undue duress and influence which meant the First Nations had never freely consented to the surrenders resulting in their invalidity. The First Nations also claimed damages for their relocation to Manitou Rapids Reserve and that Canada misadministered the sale proceeds of the surrendered land.
- After extensive research and legal review, Ontario accepted the claim for negotiation in January 1987. The First Nations initiated a lawsuit in 1989 against Canada and Ontario. Following a thorough historical and legal review, Canada accepted the claim for negotiation in April 1994. The lawsuit was deferred after the claim was accepted for negotiation by both Ontario and Canada.
- A negotiation framework agreement was signed at the Manitou Mounds with the representatives of all three parties on May 6, 1997. The Settlement Agreement was initialled by the negotiators on January 11, 2005, signalling the completion of negotiations. It was then ratified by the First Nations through a referendum of all members (on- and off-reserve), by Ontario and by Canada.
- The settlement negotiated by the parties includes both financial compensation and a land component and brings legal closure to the outstanding issues raised through the claim. In addition, it resolves any uncertainty for residents in the claim area about interests in land forming part of the surrendered Reserves.
- The settlement consists of approximately $71 million in compensation contributed equally by Canada and Ontario. This includes the First Nations' negotiation costs and the market value of approximately 14,945 acres (6,048 hectares) of provincial Crown land, which Canada has agreed to set aside as reserve land for the RRFNs, subject to the terms and conditions of its Additions to Reserves Policy and the settlement agreement. Under the settlement, the RRFNs will also be entitled to purchase up to 31,300 acres (12,677 hectares) of replacement land on a willing-buyer/willing-seller basis over a 40 year period and propose that land for reserve status.
- The Crown land to be set apart as reserve for the Rainy River First Nations under the settlement is located in the Hay Bay area of Lake of the Woods, at Sphene Lake and the Gates Ajar area of Pipestone Lake. Also included are four islands in the Rainy River and three land blocks near the Manitou Rapids Reserve. These areas were chosen because of their traditional purposes and the historic and cultural significance to the Rainy River First Nations.
- The boundaries of the Crown land component are based on the input and comments received through an extensive public consultation process which began in the fall of 2002 and concluded in June of 2004. It involved a series of open houses advertised through local media, distribution of several follow-up newsletters, and a comprehensive series of face-to-face meetings with directly affected parties.
- The settlement agreement sets out a process by which the RRFNs will consult with affected municipalities on issues stemming from reserve creation, such as reasonable compensation for any necessary tax adjustments, municipal servicing agreements and the integration of bylaws and land use planning. The RRFNs and municipal representatives have been discussing issues of mutual concern over the past five years and are confident that the impact of reserve creation can be minimized with the co-operation of all parties.
- The settlement funds will be set aside in the RRFNs trust to be administered by a board of trustees, appointed by the First Nations, who must abide by the rules and regulations set out in their claim Trust Agreement, which was also ratified by First Nation members.
- The RRFNs will use its settlement funds to purchase replacement land and for community purposes, including economic development, social and cultural activities and other endeavours for the advancement of its membership both on- and off-reserve. The settlement will enable the First Nations to expand on their successes in economic and business development, which already make a significant contribution to the District's industry, economy and tax base. The successful resolution of this claim enables the parties to put the past behind them and get on with the business of building a more promising future for the RRFNs, its members and ultimately for everyone in the district.