The Government of Canada (Canada), the Provincial Government of Ontario (Ontario) and Algonquins
of Ontario (AOO) released to the general public in December 2012 a document on the negotiated land
claim discussions between these parties referred to as The Preliminary Draft Agreement-in-Principle
Meetings to “learn more about and provide comments to the Algonquin Land Claim Negotiations” were
scheduled across Eastern Ontario during the first three weeks of March 2013. See the following for
specific dates and times (www.algonquinlandclaim.ca).
The Algonquins first petitioned the British Crown concerning land back in 1772 and discussions
concerning ‘land claim” were had in the early 1800’s. The Government of Canada initiated “land
claim” discussions in the early 1900’s with little satisfaction nor fairness. Canada and Ontario have been meeting with the AOO for the past 20 years in these current “negotiations”. The parties have defined negotiations as the first step towards reaching a modern day treaty that would be protected under the Constitution Act (1982). The AIP would provide a foundation for a “first agreement” that would clarify and define the rights of the AOO as they relate to land, water and natural resources and the obligations of Canada, Ontario and the AOO.
The land claim package determined (www.ontario.ca/algonquinlandclaim) by Canada, Ontario and the
AOO includes 200 parcels of land ranging in size from a few acres to over 30,000 acres. These lands
total 117,500 acres of Crown Lands, Provincial Park Lands and Public Lands from the St Lawrence
River to the Ottawa River to the north in Eastern Ontario.
The proposed land selections were chosen by the negotiating parties for one of four purposes:
- Historical/Spiritual designation of land
- Future Institutional Residential Industrial Development
- Economic Development, Resources, Industrial Development
- Community Recreation, and Environmental Protection
The past process that the current Negotiators have put forward has not been an open and
transparent process. It has been conducted in closed meetings and through invitation only. The negotiators tell us that the AIP is a step leading towards an agreement not a binding contract. The following issues are currently being vetted by the Negotiators in “Public Meetings” and will be addressed in the next steps as part of the AIP.
- Conservation issues will take priority
- The rights of hunt clubs and fishing camps on negotiated lands will be addressed
- Access across right-of-ways over transferred lands and navigable waters will be protected
- Harvest Management Plans and Fish Management Plans have been agreed to for Provincial Parks (to be jointly operated by the AOO & Ontario)
From a meeting I attended with AIP Key Negotiators on March 7, 2013 in Perth Ontario I have made
the following observations concerning the future process.
- Community Meetings to introduce the AIP to the public will be continuing until March 17, 2013. This two week community consultation is being considered by the Negotiators as the “completion of their current review process”
- From the Review Process the Negotiators will adopt changes to the content and the Negotiators will then develop a “Final Draft”
- The ‘Final Draft AIP’ will be submitted to AOO voters for ratification
- Upon ratification the Final Draft AIP will be submitted to the Governments of Ontario and Canada for approval
- Upon Approval Negotiations begin for a “Final Agreement”
- The “Final Agreement” or “Treaty” would then be approved by the AOO voters
- The Legislature of Ontario will be asked to approve “Treaty”
- After Ontario has approved the Government of Canada will approve “Treaty”
- The “Treaty” will be ratified.
The negotiators have stated that if all goes well that such an agreement “may be ready for
implementation in 3-4 years”. It is my opinion that this prognostication is overly optimistic. Legal
challenges, disagreements and contentious issues could be and in all likelihood will be unfolding over the next decade plus.
The lands that have been identified around Bobs & Crow Lakes include the Crown Land south of Badour Farms between Bobs Lake and Crow Lakes and the Crown Land portion of Badour Island. These lands have been identified by Chief Doreen Davis as lands of “historical and spiritual” nature to the Algonquins. Yet in speaking to Ontario Negotiators it was noted that such lands may be used as “trading pieces” by the First Nations. It is not the current intention of the Algonquin First Nations, according to Chief Davis, to “trade” spiritual Lands yet this is an example of mis or perhaps discommunication.
The Algonquins have become the forgotten people of the land. Negotiators claim that the land claim
assets are to benefit everyone in the First Nations Community and not individuals. The Negotiators
appear to be very comfortable in having answers yet somehow have difficulty in asking questions.
That said I share with you the web sites of the Key Negotiators so that you may understand the
perspective that all the Negotiating parties have taken.
Algonquins of Ontario:
Telephone: 613 735 3759
Government of Ontario:
Telephone: 613 732 8081
Government of Canada:
Telephone: 1 800 567 9604
President, Greater Bobs and Crow Lakes Association
613 279 3210