Land claims blame

Rating: NNNNN

Governments have been stomping all over centuries-old pacts with First Nations. Here are 10 of the hundreds still languishing in Ontario. What part of ?treaty? don?t the feds understand?


The largest native claim on the province’s docket is that of the Algonquins of Ontario to ownership of the Ottawa and Mattawa River watersheds, a 3,600,000-hectare area that includes most of Algonquin Park, CFB Petawawa and the National Capital Region, including Parliament Hill. They say this territory was never ceded, and they have a series of petitions dating back to 1772 to prove it. The province agreed to enter into negotiations with them in 1991, almost a decade after the claim was first filed, but so far only hunting agreements have been signed.

Six Nations (Caledonia)

Six Nations traces its roots in the area along the Grand River to the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American War of Independence. Since 1976, Six Nations has filed 29 land claims with the federal government (under the Haldimand Deed, Six Nations were given 385,000 hectares of land in the area for it’s military support during the American Revolution and the War of 1812), but only one has been settled. In 1994, Six Nations filed suit in court against both Ontario and Canada asking for an accounting of all the transactions involving Six Nations lands. That litigation is still pending, and last summer natives blockaded the Douglas Creek Estates property in Caledonia, an area that is part of one of their claims.


The province, the Temagami First Nation (TFN) and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai (TAA) are still dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a framework agreement more than three decades in the making. The Temagami community laid claim to 1,036,000 hectares of land around Lake Temagami. The Crown surveyed a reserve of only 25,900 hectares. The community signed a framework agreement with the province in 2000 after the Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that the Temagami Indians had no right to the lands they claimed – even though the court found that the Crown had failed to live up to its financial obligations under the Robinson-Huron Treaty.

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway

The Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation has been waiting more than 100 years for compensation after flooding caused by the building of a dam at Dryden in 1897. In 1912, a hydroelectric plant that replaced the dam caused water levels to rise again and claim some 938 hectares of reserve land. The surreal twist here: since 1929, a dispute between the feds and the province over ownership of several islands created by the flooding has stalled negotiation of compensation for the Wabigoon Nation. Talks between the three parties just got underway in 2004.

Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (Toronto Purchase)

The Mississaugas say that 101,527 hectares of land surrendered in 1805, much of what is now metropolitan Toronto, did not include the Toronto Islands. They say the Crown failed to inform them that an earlier surrender of the lands in 1787 was invalid. Only after the Indian Claims Commission, an independent working group, began its own inquiry into the Mississaugas’ claim did the federal government agree to revisit it in 2002. The feds have since admitted that the 1805 surrender amounted to non-fulfilment of the government’s treaty obligations, but they have not conceded that there has been any breach of financial obligations. The claim, rejected outright by the government in 1993, is currently back in mediation.

Missanabie Cree

The Missanabie Cree First Nation is a distinct group of Mushkegowuk Cree whose traditional territory is centred on Missanabie Lake about 120 kilometres north of Wawa. Reserve lands to which the band was entitled under Treaty 9 signed in 1906 were never turned over by the Crown. Now Ontario is proposing to transfer approximately 3,900 hectares to the band. But the Missanabie say this area, based on the tribe’s population at the time of the signing of Treaty 9, is not enough for its 300 members currently scattered across Canada. The matter is currently before the courts.

Moose Deer Point Pottawatomi

Some 3,000 Pottawatomi, allies of the British in the War of 1812, released their rights to lands in the U.S. to move to Canada based on British promises of guns, powder, clothes and other materials. But by the 1850s, fears of U.S. aggression had waned and the Brits stopped delivering presents to all their Aboriginal allies, leaving the tribe without annuities, a recognized land base or the inducements that had brought them to Canada in the first place. It was only because of the intervention of a benefactor that a reserve was established. The feds rejected the First Nation’s claim in 1995.

Chippewas of the Thames

In this claim dating back to pre-Confederation, the Chippewas assert that money owed to the First Nation for the sale of 1,214 hectares of land surrendered in 1834 was misappropriated by a superintendent in the Indian Department, as it was then known. In 1975, the feds rejected a claim brought by the Union of Ontario Indians, arguing that the nation had signed a release of the lands in 1906. The feds agreed to review the claim in 2001 based on additional research conducted by the Indian Claims Commission.

Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point

The Chippewas claim that the sale of 33 hectares from the Kettle Point Indian Reserve in southwestern Ontario was invalid. In 1927, developer A.M. Crawford paid members of Kettle Point $5 each to vote for the sale of their lands, promising another $10 later. The Department of Indian Affairs cancelled the deal after he had problems raising money for its purchase, but the Supreme Court of Canada deemed the sale valid. The transfer of nearby Stony Point lands (aka Ipperwash Provincial Park) to the feds before World War II involved a promise to return the lands, which were being used as a military base, at the end of the war. The 1995 police shooting death of Dudley George at Ipperwash brought the feds back to the negotiating table, but a dozen years later, Stony Pointers are still without their original home.

Mohawks of Akwesasne

The Mohawk Council is laying claim to 8,094 hectares on the south shore of the St. Lawrence near Cornwall. The feds recognize the land as belonging to the Mohawks, but it’s been leased to non-Mohawks since the 1800s. A surrender of the land was allegedly signed in 1888, but the Mohawks claim that it has always been their intention to reclaim the land gradually. Their claim was partially accepted in 1988 on the grounds that the Mohawks had been inadequately compensated for the land, but talks broke down in the mid-1990s. New negotiations are in the early stages.

Stay In The Know with Now Toronto

Be the first to know about new and exclusive content