Algonquins of Ontario Land Claim Negotiations
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Overview of the Algonquins of Ontario land claim
Canada, Ontario and the Algonquins of Ontario are working together to resolve a land claim through a negotiated Final Agreement that will take the form of a modern-day treaty. All three parties are committed to finding a balanced and shared solution that respects the rights of all Canadians.
As has been done in other parts of Canada, the Algonquins of Ontario submitted a comprehensive land claim based on unresolved Aboriginal rights and title, having never signed a treaty with the Crown. The Algonquin Land Claim is one of the largest and most complex land claims in Ontario currently under negotiation, a territory covering approximately 36,000 square kilometers, and populated by approximately 1.2 million people.
No private property will be taken away from anyone to settle this claim.
This text represents the long description for the map of the Algonquins of Ontario Land Claim
The Algonquin claim includes an area of 8.9 million acres (36,000 km²), within the watersheds of the Ottawa and the Mattawa Rivers in Ontario. The claim area covers most of eastern Ontario, including Parliament Hill and Algonquin Park, as well as CFB Petawawa and the City of Ottawa. More than 1.2 million people live and work within the claim area.
At a glance: The Algonquin negotiating team
The Algonquins of Ontario are comprised of ten Algonquin communities in the Ottawa River watershed. These communities are: the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the communities of Antoine, Bancroft, Bonnechere, Greater Golden Lake, Mattawa/North Bay, Ottawa, Shabot Obaadjiwan, Snimikobi and Whitney and Area.
The Algonquin negotiating team consists of the Chief and Council of Pikwakanagan and one representative from each of the nine other Algonquin communities. These Algonquin Negotiation Representatives are elected by the Algonquin people through a series of transparent and democratic elections for a three-year term.
Status of negotiations
The negotiators for the Algonquins of Ontario, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario released a Preliminary Draft Agreement-in-Principle in December 2012 for public review. This draft document was put forward to the public, Algonquin membership and legal interest holders (ie. land use permit holders and others who have tenure on Ontario Crown lands that are proposed for transfer to Algonquin ownership) for review and comment. Seeking the public's input at this stage in negotiations is unprecedented.
Following these extensive consultations which took place in 2013, revisions to this document were negotiated by Canada, Ontario and the Algonquins. These revisions were reflected in the proposed Agreement-in-Principle which was announced and made available to the public in June 2015.
In February and March 2016, the Algonquins of Ontario held a vote on the proposed Agreement-in-Principle and announced their vote results on March 17, 2016. Further information about the Algonquin vote is available on the Algonquins of Ontario website.
Following approval by all three parties, the Algonquins of Ontario, Canada and Ontario signed this non-binding Agreement-in-Principle on October 18, 2016. With the signing of the Agreement-in-Principle, negotiations toward a Final Agreement can begin. This is just one step in a lengthy process before a Final Agreement can be reached.
The Agreement-in-Principle sets out the main elements of a potential settlement, which would include:
- the transfer of 117,500 acres of provincial Crown land to Algonquin ownership
- $300 million as settlement capital provided by Canada and Ontario
- defined ongoing rights of the Algonquins of Ontario related to lands and natural resources within eastern Ontario
- Land will not be taken or expropriated from private owners.
- No one will lose existing access to cottages or private property or navigable waterways.
- No provincial Crown land will be transferred to the Algonquins of Ontario until after a Final Agreement has been reached.
- No new First Nation reserves will be created.
- Any lands transferred to the Algonquins will be held in fee simple (ie. privately owned) and will be subject to the same land use planning and development approvals and authorities as other private lands.
- Land transfers will:
- restore historically significant sites to the Algonquins
- contribute to the social and cultural objectives of Algonquin communities
- provide a foundation for economic development
- Arrangements will be negotiated for existing recreation or other legal interests to continue on transferred land; Ontario would facilitate these negotiations.
- Algonquin harvesting rights will be subject to provincial and federal laws necessary for conservation, public health and public safety.
- Algonquin Park will continue to be part of the Ontario parks system and preserved for the enjoyment of all.
- Ontario will continue managing Ontario parks, with the Algonquins having a greater planning role.
- Two non-operating parks and parts of five non-operating parks are proposed for transfer to the Algonquins of Ontario.
- A new 30,000 acre provincial park near Crotch Lake is being recommended.
Certainty and economic development
- Resolution of the Algonquins of Ontario claim will bring benefits and legal certainty to eastern Ontario.
- By creating greater certainty, a final treaty with the Algonquins of Ontario will help increase investor confidence in eastern Ontario and create potential for economic development, jobs and growth.
Public outreach and consultation
This was the first time that negotiators sought public input on a Preliminary Draft of an Agreement-in-Principle. Other proactive steps included:
- establishing a Municipal Advisory Committee and a Committee of External Advisors in 1996
- engaging in ongoing, detailed discussions regarding specific interests between the provincial and federal negotiation teams and stakeholders
- conducting public information sessions in March and April 2013 across eastern Ontario to discuss the proposed content of the Preliminary Draft Agreement-in-Principle with members of the public
- meetings with neighbouring Indigenous groups
- holding more than 200 meetings with representatives of local government, the forest industry, sport, outdoor recreational and environmental groups, local businesses and others across the claim area whose interests may be affected
There will be many opportunities in the future for stakeholders, other Indigenous groups, and the public to provide their input at key milestones as negotiators move forward with their joint work toward a Final Agreement. This important dialogue will continue during final agreement negotiations in the years ahead.
The non-binding Agreement-in-Principle was shaped by public consultation efforts and is only one step of many in negotiating a Final Agreement. Consultations with those with direct interests will continue throughout the negotiation process.
The goal is to work together in the spirit of reconciliation toward a Final Agreement that is fair to all parties and balances the interests of the Algonquins and their neighbours. It will be many years before a Final Agreement is in place.
The rights of the Algonquins of Ontario that will be set out in a Final Agreement will receive constitutional protection. The Final Agreement will clarify ongoing rights to lands and natural resources in the region and give legal force to a lasting and comprehensive settlement.
A settlement of this land claim will benefit the Algonquin people and their neighbours throughout eastern Ontario by increasing investor confidence, and providing new opportunities for investment and economic development in the region.
To date, Canada and its negotiating partners have signed 26 agreements or treaties to address similar Aboriginal rights and title claims.
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Algonquins of Ontario
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