Nearly three decades of negotiations and nine elected band councils later, Missanabie Cree First Nation has finally concluded its Land Title Treaty claim settlement with the Canadian government.
The agreement, announced Tuesday by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, includes approximately $150 million in financial compensation for the First Nation and also gives the ability to purchase up to 3,200 hectares of land on the open market for expansion his land base
The claim revolved around the reserve land Missanabie Cree First Nation was promised under Treaty 9 more than 110 years ago.
“We’re glad we’ve reached some kind of resolution,” said Missanabie Cree First Nation Chief Gauthier, who has been part of the negotiation process since 2013. “It’s a piece of the puzzle to a bigger piece of reconciliation.”
“We’ve been negotiating this, litigating this – we’ve been part of this for many years, and it’s great that this part of the financial compensation is over at this point.”
The federal government says the settlement resolution complements a previous process that saw the Missanabie Cree First Nation receive official reserve status and more than 9,000 hectares of land from Canada in June 2018 for the creation of its first reserve ground base.
“Congratulations to Chief Gauthier and Council for their hard work and starting a new chapter,” said the MP from Sault Ste. Marie Terry Sheehan in a press release. “I want to acknowledge that this success comes from decades of work on behalf of Chief Gauthier, previous Chiefs and members of the Missanabie Cree First Nation community. This is an important step towards a renewed relationship based on the recognition of rights, truth and reconciliation and a renewed partnership. Most importantly, it creates new opportunities for future generations of a community to be able to explore.”
“I look forward to continuing to work together with Chief Gauthier, the Council and all members of the community.”
Gauthier tells SooToday that part of the financial compensation went to community members through the per capita distribution, while another part is intended to cover past debts. The rest of the funds will then be held for future projects.
Members of Missanabie Cree First Nation approved the settlement in a community vote, with 99 percent of participants voting in favor of the settlement.