APTN National News
OTTAWA–The Harper government and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have settled a 200 year-old claim over sold reserve land that forced the relocation of a community.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Barnard Valcourt attended a ceremony Monday with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation Chief Joe Miskokomon to mark the Big Bear Creek settlement which gave the community $120 million in compensation for the loss of 5,120 acres of reserve land.
The land had been set aside in the 1819 Longwoods Treaty, but was sold in the 1830s by the British colonial government without the consents of the Chippewas.
“This agreement closes a long and painful chapter for our nation, but through perseverance and hard work we managed to negotiate the best possible agreement for our children’s future,” said Miskokomon, in a statement.
Valcourt called the settlement “historic” and “a major step forward on a path of renewal and reconciliation.”
The settlement was reached under Ottawa’s specific claims policy which covers claims stemming from historical grievances including lost land.
When the Chippewas entered into the Longwoods Treaty on March 9, 1819, they were reserved two tracts of land for their exclusive use.
One tract of 15,360 acres, became the current home of the Chippewas of the Thames in the Caradoc Township in Ontario. The second tract of 5,120 acres, which sat about 50 kilometres to the west along the Thames River, was supposed to be the home location of the Bear Creek Chippewas.
The Crown, however, made changes to the treaty in subsequent years which led to the selling off of Big Bear Creek’s original reserve land.
The two communities then merged as the Chippewas of the Thames.
Canada would only recognize a claims submission from the Chippewas of the Thames.