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First Nations approve proposed Williams Treaties settlement

 

Last updated 7/17/2018 at 9:34am

Library and Archives Canada

The first page of the Williams Treaty with the Mississauga First Nations of Rice, Mud and Scugog Lakes and Alderville, which was signed in 1923.

OTTAWA-In June, seven First Nations outside Toronto have voted to accept a $1.1-billion settlement deal with the federal and provincial governments to resolve a long-standing treaty dispute called the Williams Treaties.

The Williams Treaties First Nations are the Chippewas of Beausoleil, Georgina Island and Rama and the Mississaugas of Alderville, Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Scugog Island. These seven First Nations are signatories to various 18th and 19th century treaties that covered lands in different parts of south central Ontario. In 1923, the Chippewas and Mississaugas signed the Williams Treaties and together, over 90 years later, the Williams Treaties First Nations have joined to ensure their rights to and the relationship with the land is respected.

Scugog Island First Nation Chief Kelly La Rocca said the approval is "an important milestone" toward a final settlement that would end decades of court litigation and negotiation over the controversial Williams Treaties of 1923. The seven First Nations have long argued the government unjustly crafted and implemented the treaties, that they were unfairly compensated for their land, and that they never surrendered hunting and fishing rights in the 20th century treaties. 

Canada and Ontario still need to complete their own internal approval processes before it can be ratified by all parties, she said, which includes the Alderville, Beausoleil, Chippewas of Georgina Island, Chippewas of Rama, Curve Lake, Hiawatha and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations that are spread out from Georgian Bay to Lake Scugog north of Oshawa. 

"We are pleased to report that voters from the seven Williams Treaties communities have approved the proposed settlement agreement," La Rocca said.

In the proposed settlement, Ontario and Canada would provide $1.1 billion to the seven nations, recognize fishing and hunting rights, and grant 312 square kilometres of new land to the communities. 

The Williams Treaties are different than others in Ontario because they were signed in the 20th century and pertained to land that Chippewas and Mississaugas had never agreed to relinquish, but was already occupied by settler homes, mines and lumber mills.

 
 

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