APTN National News
An Ontario Algonquin organization says it is pushing ahead with ratification votes for its agreement-in-principle for what it hopes will lead to a “modern-day treaty” that is facing opposition from Quebec Algonquin First Nations
The Algonquins of Ontario announced Wednesday the ratification votes would be held between Feb. 29 and March 7.
The group is made up of 10 Algonquin communities, but only one, Pikwakanagan, is a First Nation with reserve lands. The nine other communities were given legitimacy by Queen’s Park and Ottawa within the framework of the proposed modern-day treaty talks.
The Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) face stiff opposition to completing the proposed modern-day treaty from three Algonquin First Nations in Quebec.
The First Nations, Wolf Lake, Eagle Village and Timiskaming alleged the AOO claim threatens to extinguish their rights and title to about 855,271 acres of their claimed territory in Ontario.
The three First Nations are contemplating legal action to stop the AOO’s process. The communities also allege that some of the members who have signed up as part of the AOO are not real Indigenous people.
Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis has called the AOO a “policy fiction” that lacks the legitimacy of a real Algonquin nation.
The agreement-in-principle proses to transfer $300 million in capital funding and 117,500 acres of Ontario Crown lands into the hands of AOO. The $300 million will likely not be distributed in lump sums among the signatories.
A final agreement may still be years away from completion.
Negotiations around the AOO’s claim began in earnest in about 2004 when the 10 Algonquin communities in Ontario signed a protocol to pursue the claim together.
“The choice is now in the hands of Algonquin voters,” said Pikwakanagan First Nation Chief Kirby Whiteduck in a statement.
In addition to Pikwakanagan, the AOO is comprised of the Antoine, Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini, Bonnechere, Greater Golden Lake, Mattawa-North Bay, Ottawa, Shabot Obaadjiwan, Snimikobi and Whitney communities.
The AOO, Queen’s Park and Ottawa initialed the agreement-in-principle on June 12, 2015.