Multi-billion dollar Robinson Huron settlement likely to be distributed in new year says chief

Twenty-one First Nations in Ontario are waiting for the province and federal government to sign off on a long-awaited upgrade on the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty.

Annuities to those First Nations were supposed to increase as resource revenues increased.  However, the annuity has remained at $4 since 1874.

Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod told Nation to Nation host Annette Francis, that the $10 billion agreement is getting closer to reality.

“We’re hoping to have the finalized agreement by the new year or shortly there after, which will set in process the 60 day period for monies to start flowing to the trust,” he said. “Then from there going to the communities, as per the distribution agreement.”

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada heard from the province of Ontario regarding annuities. McLeod said it will set the stage for future conversations on compensation.

“We’ve seen in the courts, litigation, Canada and Ontario basically lost the decisions, quite heavily in our favour,” he said. “So I think that says a lot to how the process will occur as we go forward to the treaty payments into the future.”

Tribunal win in B.C.

The lawyer representing five claimants who brought a case against the Peters First Nation has won at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

David Wu told Nation to Nation five claimants sued the Peters First Nation for denying them membership. Four of the five claimants won that case.

APTN has covered a few stories over the years on the membership mess in the small community, located in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver.

Many said it’s unfairly keeping people off the membership list.  They are recognized as status by the federal government, but not as community members by chief and council.

Read the ruling from the CHRT: 

Download (PDF, 548KB)

Wu said in the past there have been three other federal court decisions and two federal court of appeal decisions, in relation to membership issues and also a leave to the Supreme Court of Canada, “all of which Peters First Nation was unsuccessful,” said Wu.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal recently upheld punitive damages against council members. Wu said the case was about how council was not about membership, but in a fiduciary duty context.

According to Wu, there were several issues with how council was employing themselves in staff positions, not following their conflict of interest bylaws and paying themselves ad-hoc amounts for meetings.

He said the punitive damages in the breach of fiduciary duty case were $50,000 to the longest serving councillor, $25,000 for the chief and $10,000 to the shortest serving councillor.

“The hope is that it serves as a deterrence and serves to change the way in which Peters First Nation governs in the future,” he said.

Environment meeting 

Also on Nation to Nation, a discussion about members of the First Nations Climate Initiative being part of the Canadian delegation at COP28 in Dubai this week. COP28, which means Conference of the Parties, is the largest environmental meeting where thousands of delegates meet to discuss the climate crisis.

The initiative describes itself an Indigenous-led forum that is fighting climate change, while at the same time developing economic activities in what it calls clean energy.

Earlier this week it released a study called, “Western Canadian Gas Exports; Opportunities and Rsks in a Low Carbon World.”

According to facilitator Alex Grzybowski, the purpose of the report was to identity realistic pathways for the western Canadian liquified natural gas (LNG) industry to contribute to decarbonization efforts.

Grzybowski said some First Nations in British Columbia are looking to the LNG industry, both for environmental and economic benefits.

“The Haisla and Nisga’a are very concerned about how they can develop these projects in a way that does help to mitigate climate change.”

He said the message they’re telling leaders at COP28 is simple.

“We want to work with the countries that are our customers and make sure of that it does contribute to their decarbonization efforts are so that we can all get to net zero and onwards into a recovering climate as soon as possible,” he said.

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