Missanabie First Nation in Ontario has received $150 million from the federal government in compensation for a 114 year old land claim.
The settlement is between the government of Canada and the Missanabie Cree First Nation.
Land was originally promised to the First Nation under Treaty No. 9 in Ontario back in 1906.
The Missanabie Cree were displaced and have been living without their own land base in rural areas like Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.
“I acknowledge all the hard work from past and present Chiefs and councils to make this happen, it is a testament to a lot of hard work and perseverance,” said Missanabie Chief Jason Gauthier in a statement released Tuesday.
“Our elders, Youth and ancestors also played an important role in achieving a settlement. Thank you to all involved.”
The bulk of the money has been put towards investments for the future of the community. Gauthier told APTN News that a significant portion was allotted to the 500 members of the First Nation.
The Chief wouldn’t say how much was given to each member but did say it is a significant amount and is one of the largest per capita distributions in the history of Ontario.
Gauthier said the original application for the First Nation to be recognized by the federal government was put forward in the 1950s but they didn’t get full recognition until the early 90s.
A land claim settlement with the government of Ontario in 2010 got them 39 square kilometres of land near the Chapleau Game reserve, approximately 200 km north of Sault Ste. Marie where the Missanabie administration office is currently located.
In 2018 the federal government granted the Missanabie Cree reserve status.
In the statement on Tuesday, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said together the First Nation and Canada are taking a historic step along the road to reconciliation to renew the nation-to-nation relationship and build a better future based on a true spirit of respect.
“Today we are demonstrating what can be achieved through partnership and dialogue,” Bennett said. “This settlement honours an outstanding treaty obligation to the Missanabie Cree First Nation, helping to right past wrongs and creating new opportunities for the community.”
The settlement by the First Nation on Aug. 13, 2019 and by the federal government on April 24, 2020.
A previous community vote saw 99 per cent of the community in favor of the settlement.
Gauthier told APTN the First Nation is currently surveying the allotted area for the ideal place for their new community and expects people to start to move to the territory within two years and hopes to have the entire community infrastructure in place within five years.
“We’re going to make sure that there’s proper water proper, proper surveying of the land itself,” Gautier said. “So that everything we need in order to make sure that what we’re doing and where we’re doing it is the proper place to do it so we don’t want to run into issues later.”
The settlement stipulates that the Missanabie Cree First Nation also has the option to buy back another 1,300 hectares of land to add to their reserve land base should they desire.