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January 25, 2012

Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation Announced as One of Two First Nations in Ontario to enter into the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management

Thunder Bay, ON, Jan. 23, 2012 - Minister Duncan of Aboriginal Affairs of Northern Development Canada has announced the entry of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation (BNA) into the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management. Led by Chief Paul Gladu, BNA has been working diligently towards the development of a new and innovative community master plan. For BNA, the announcement that it is to be accepted under the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management (Framework Agreement) could not have come at a better time as only 20 short months ago, the community recently received their official reserve status through an Order in Council.

With the entry of the BNA Framework Agreement process, the First Nation can now maximize their opportunities in the completion of their comprehensive planning and address the associated challenges of implementation head on. The Framework Agreement will give BNA the authority to create its own Land Code and land laws in the development of its reserve lands, natural resources and revenues from its reserve land base. This new mandate will greatly improve the bureaucratic efficiency of the First Nation to act in a manner which reflects both the vision of their leadership and the needs of their members as they move forward. It will also give BNA the power to direct lands and economic development within their reserve base by replacing the previous two-step administrative process which saw AANDC initially review all potential projects prior to BNA's ability to make real-time decisions and act upon them.

Chief Gladu states; "We are extremely happy to hear that BNA has been selected as one of the communities to be a new signatory to the Framework Agreement. Even more honoured when one considers that we are only one of two First Nations in Ontario to be selected for this process. We sincerely appreciate the support of Minister Duncan as we continue to move forward in the development of our First Nation policies and protocols including governance, community housing, economic development and infrastructure - all in support of the growth of our membership. This announcement will assist us in establishing and nurturing partnerships with industry, governments, municipalities and our neighbouring First Nations. BNA leadership is extremely proud of their members as they continue to prove time and time again to be both positive and engaged in the planning process of their First Nation. We are confident that we have forged a strong path in community development - one built on a stable foundation based on establishing best practices through our own First Nation's - built Land Code which will ensure sustained growth."

Wilfred King, Director of Operations, says, "This is a positive step towards self-government for BNA with regards to asserting its sovereignty over the development of its reserve lands and resources. By creating our own Land Code, BNA can now exercise jurisdiction and be the drivers of their destiny. As far as the First Nations ability to act proactively and responsibly to new opportunities, this announcement is very significant for the First Nation. This process will enable the First Nation to engage business and development, and to become economically self-sufficient. "

JP Gladu, Senior Advisor for Business Development is elated. "The creation of a BNA Land Code is going to add significant stability for both our First Nation and for our project partners as we implement our present business streams. Current projects under development in the community include a value added saw mill and a pellet mill. Future ventures could see the exploration of wind-generated power, the construction of the Copper Thunderbird 5-Star Eco-lodge Resort, the consideration of seasonal cottage developments and the creation of a long-term care facility. Partnerships will be easier for all involved parties to negotiate and navigate which makes our First Nation an attractive associate to potential outside investors."

December 23, 2011


Ontario: Canada, Ontario And Fort William First Nation Celebrate Historic Land Claim Settlement 

The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and Fort William First Nation announced the final settlement of a 160-year-old land claim that will strengthen the economy and create jobs in northwestern Ontario. 

MP Greg Rickford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, MPP David Zimmer, Ontario's Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation joined community members at a special ceremony at Fort William First Nation to celebrate the signing of this landmark agreement. 

"This settlement honours past commitments and opens up new investment and employment opportunities for the future that will significantly benefit the Fort William First Nation and local communities," said Mr. Rickford. "This agreement shows that with determination and a willingness to work together, we can arrive at effective solutions to resolve longstanding issues." 

"We're building a better future for the Fort William community with this landmark agreement. This agreement means Fort William can invest in new jobs and create new economic opportunities for its members," said the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for Ontario. 

"I congratulate the Fort William First Nation on this historic achievement. The Ministry of Natural Resources values its close working relationship with the First Nation. I wish to thank everyone involved for their commitment and effort in achieving this settlement," said the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources. 

"Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario worked hard to bring this claim home," said Chief Collins. "Now we have the land and resources that our First Nation needs to create businesses, employment and other opportunities which will benefit our members and the entire Thunder Bay area. The promises in the Treaty of 1850 about our reserve have finally been fulfilled." 

This settlement of the Boundary Claim includes about $149 million in financial compensation from Canada and approximately $5 million from Ontario. It also includes the transfer of provincial Crown lands on Lake Superior's Flatland Island and Pie Island to the federal government, to be set apart as reserve land for the Fort William First Nation.

The process for resolving this claim involved a number of steps. In November 2010, the governments of Canada and Ontario and the Fort William First Nation announced that their negotiators had concluded talks on a settlement proposal. First Nation members approved the settlement in a vote on January 22, 2011, followed by approvals from Ontario and Canada. 

In addition to the Boundary Claim, Canada and Fort William First Nation have also concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve the First Nation's Neebing Surrender Specific Claim. This financial settlement resolves a historic grievance dating back to the late 1850s and includes compensation of approximately $22 million. The settlement was approved by First Nation members in a vote on December 4, 2010, and by Canada on March 2, 2011. 

Negotiated agreements honour legal obligations owed to First Nations, resolving longstanding disputes about land in a way that benefits First Nations and Ontario as a whole. Private land is not taken away from anyone to settle any claims. Land claim settlements create investment and business opportunities that can bring economic benefits and build new partnerships for First Nations and neighbouring communities. Settling claims is key to achieving reconciliation and rebuilding relationships with First Nation communities in Canada. 

The Fort William First Nation has approximately 1,880 members and is located adjacent to Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario.

December 16, 2011

Ottawa proposes first nations property ownership

Conservative MPs are proposing a fundamental change to Canada’s reserve system, advocating legislation that would allow natives to own private property within the communal land of reserves.

The change – recommended Wednesday in a Conservative-led prebudget report by the House of Commons finance committee – would mark a dramatic shift for individuals living on reserve. It would make it easier to accumulate wealth and to use homes as collateral when seeking bank loans to start businesses.

Read more at the Globe and Mail here