The largest land claim under negotiation in Ontario is going to a vote.
The Algonquins of Ontario, an organization created for the land claim process, has negotiated a proposed Agreement-in-Principle under the modern-day treaty process with the federal and provincial governments. It covers 36,000 square kilometres in eastern Ontario and provides monetary compensation of $300 million.
The agreement is not legally binding, says the Algonquins of Ontario, and instead “provides the framework for future negotiations towards a Final Agreement that will have the legal status of a modern-day Treaty.”
Not everyone is happy about it.
Heather Majaury grew up on traditional Algonquin territory. Last weekend, outside a voting information session in Toronto, she called for the land claim to be rejected.
From the structure of negotiations to the system of voting, the process is flawed, said Majaury.
She also took aim at the current process of funding land claim settlements, where the government loans First Nations money and then expects a first repayment as soon as the claim is settled. The Canadian government has loaned the Algonquins of Ontario millions of dollars to cover negotiation expenses, all which has to be paid back.
“It makes no sense to be loaned anything in those circumstances if you already hold original title,” said Majaury.
Justin Trudeau has acknowledged the land claims process “simply does not work.” At a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations last summer, he said would “work with First Nations to re-design how Canada negotiates and fully implements modern treaties.”
Produced through the Indigenous Reporting Fund, a special project of Ricochet Media.