Kenora MP Greg Rickford's in Thunder Bay, where he joined with Ontario's aboriginal affairs minister in announcing the signing of a land claim with Ft. William First Nation. The meeting will take place at the Independent Living Resource Centre Thunder Bay.
Rickford is scheduled to make another series of announcements this afternoon, as he winds down the fall session of Parliament. Along with his duties representing the riding, Rickford's also the parliamentary secretary for aboriginal affairs in the Conservative government.
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Earlier today, the MP released the following statement on the Ft. William land claim settlement:
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 16, 2011) - The Government of Canada,
the Government of Ontario and Fort William First Nation announced today the
final settlement of a 160-year-old land claim that will strengthen the economy
and create jobs in northwestern Ontario.
MP Greg Rickford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
and Northern Development, MPP David Zimmer, Ontario's Parliamentary Assistant
to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William
First Nation joined community members at a special ceremony at Fort William
First Nation to celebrate the signing of this landmark agreement.
"This settlement honours past commitments and opens up new investment and
employment opportunities for the future that will significantly benefit the
Fort William First Nation and local communities," said Mr. Rickford. "This
agreement shows that with determination and a willingness to work together, we
can arrive at effective solutions to resolve longstanding issues."
"We're building a better future for the Fort William community with this
landmark agreement. This agreement means Fort William can invest in new jobs
and create new economic opportunities for its members," said the Honourable
Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for Ontario.
"I congratulate the Fort William First Nation on this historic achievement. The
Ministry of Natural Resources values its close working relationship with the
First Nation. I wish to thank everyone involved for their commitment and effort
in achieving this settlement," said the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Ontario's
Minister of Natural Resources.
"Fort William First Nation, Canada and Ontario worked hard to bring this claim
home," said Chief Collins. "Now we have the land and resources that our First
Nation needs to create businesses, employment and other opportunities which
will benefit our members and the entire Thunder Bay area. The promises in the
Treaty of 1850 about our reserve have finally been fulfilled."
This settlement of the Boundary Claim includes about $149 million in financial
compensation from Canada and approximately $5 million from Ontario. It also
includes the transfer of provincial Crown lands on Lake Superior's Flatland
Island and Pie Island to the federal government, to be set apart as reserve
land for the Fort William First Nation.
The process for resolving this claim involved a number of steps. In November
2010, the governments of Canada and Ontario and the Fort William First Nation
announced that their negotiators had concluded talks on a settlement proposal.
First Nation members approved the settlement in a vote on January 22, 2011,
followed by approvals from Ontario and Canada.
In addition to the Boundary Claim, Canada and Fort William First Nation have
also concluded a negotiated settlement to resolve the First Nation's Neebing
Surrender Specific Claim. This financial settlement resolves a historic
grievance dating back to the late 1850s and includes compensation of
approximately $22 million. The settlement was approved by First Nation members
in a vote on December 4, 2010, and by Canada on March 2, 2011.
Negotiated agreements honour legal obligations owed to First Nations, resolving
longstanding disputes about land in a way that benefits First Nations and
Ontario as a whole. Private land is not taken away from anyone to settle any
Land claim settlements create investment and business opportunities that can
bring economic benefits and build new partnerships for First Nations and
neighbouring communities. Settling claims is key to achieving reconciliation
and rebuilding relationships with First Nation communities in Canada.
The Fort William First Nation has approximately 1,880 members and is located
adjacent to Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario.