We have put together the following background information on the Wiky Lands Claim
June 12, 2017
As part of the ongoing negotiations of the Wiiky Land Claim the Ontario Government has conducted an Environmental Assessment. It has just released a draft Environmental Study Report which is now available for public review and comment. Comments need to be submitted to the government by August 11 2017
Sept 28, 2016
Wiky Lands Claim Settlement – Sept 2016
As part of continuing efforts to develop a dialogue with the Wiikwemkoong First Nation regarding their lands claim, a second meeting was held in Toronto, April 7th. Attending were Chief Duke Peltier, Chris Pheasant, a band Elder, Rob Nairn and Bill Riat of Northern Georgian Bay Association, John McMullen, Georgian Bay Association, and Richard Aniol, Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (renamed the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) as of June 2016).
The objective of the meeting was to further understand the intentions of the Wiikwemkoong for the future of the northern Georgian Bay coast and specifically as it applies to the boundaries of the NGBA from the western end of Lansdowne Channel to Pointe Grondine and including George Island and the Philip Edward Island archipelago. Any such understanding gained provides the basis for ongoing development of solutions to concerns of the seasonal residents of the area associated with the land claim.
Building on the two meetings to date with Chief Peltier, a non-binding draft proposal was developed by the NGBA which identified concerns and possible solutions for further discussion. This document was submitted to Chief Peltier who indicated that he would in turn table it with his Elders and Elected Council before responding to the NGBA. Discussions of the proposal were on hold through the summer due to the Wiiky election on 20 August.
Throughout this process we have discovered that the Wiikwemkoong, NGBA and GBA share a strong and unwavering commitment for the preservation and protection of the pristine condition of one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world. Equally important, however, it is to be reiterated that the suggestions presented in the aforementioned document are preliminary in nature and are for consideration by both the Wiikwemkoong and the wider NGBA membership. No commitment on the specifics is made or implied by either party at this time.
The outcome of the August elections is that Duke Peltier was re-elected Chief. We believe that this is good news, for it means that the NGBA, and GBA, can build upon the already constructive dialogue that has been developed, rather than start afresh with a new Chief and Council. A further meeting with Chief Peltier is in the process of being scheduled for mid-Fall, 2016.
While the NGBA respect the Wiikwemkoong position, based on available evidence they remain adamantly opposed to the inclusion of George Island and Philip Edward Island and its archipelago as part of the Wiikwemkoong Boundary Claim and the Province’s proposed substitution of the Philip Edward Island archipelago (the so-called “Alternate lands”) for Fitzwilliam Island as part of a negotiated settlement of the Wiikwemkoong Claim. That said, it is also the intention of the NGBA to work with the Wiikwemkoong and the Province to ensure continued and well-managed access, use and enjoyment of those lands for all people through time, in the event these islands are included in the final Claim.
Earlier this year, we were advised that as part of the prescribed MNRF Environmental Assessment process, a draft Environmental Study Report (ESR) of the proposed settlement would be released in late September. This would be followed by a 30-day review period that would provide the all-important opportunity for public input with regard to both the environmental and social impacts of the proposed claim settlement. It was also projected that the Final ESR was targeted for the end of the year, also with a 30-day review period. These timelines have obviously not materialized. We are now advised that MNRF and the newly re-named MIRR are discussing which EA Class should be followed; MAA stated originally that it would fall under either EA Class B or C but the NGBA has been pushing for a more stringent and comprehensive Class D. Furthermore, we have been told that the draft ESR is now scheduled, optimistically we suggest, for February 2017. Regardless, the GBA will strive to ensure that all interested parties are made aware of when the reports in question are in fact to be released and how organizations and individuals may respond to them.
April 14, 2016
Wiky Lands Claim Settlement – an update
With the objective of further developing a dialogue with the Wiikwemkoong First Nation (“Wiky”), Rob Nairn, President, Northern Georgian Bay Association, Bill Riat, NGBA Director, and GBA’s President John McMullen met with Chief Duke Peltier November 24, 2015. All parties agreed that the meeting was a worthwhile occasion for NGBA to table its concerns regarding the proposed Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim Settlement (aka the Central Lands Claim). It was also agreed that additional meetings are required to further discuss issues and concerns and to explore possible solutions.
GBA met with representatives of the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs March 9, 2016. Our objective was to further familiarize the AG and MAA with the GBA and in particular its interests and concerns with both the Central Claim (above) and the Wiky’s larger claim to Crown islands from Sault St. Marie to Penetang. In the context of Ontario’s Statement of Defence to the Wiky claims, AG representatives emphasized that it is the government’s preference to negotiate settlements, rather than deal with the matter through the courts, as court decisions are uncertain and potentially unpalatable.
MAA has advised that they are still processing the significant input received from the public as part of the Environmental Assessment process. Indications are that negotiations and arriving at a settlement will be a lengthy process.
GBA’s efforts will remain focussed on supporting the NGBA in their dealings with the Wiky FN in regard to the proposed Central Lands Claim to the best of its ability. While it is our wish that whatever settlement is reached is full and final, we will however remain equally attentive to the interests and concerns of our other member associations and to the larger claim, should that larger claim gain traction. Overall, our goal is to assist in the development of a settlement that is fair and equitable to all stakeholders who have an interest in, and value, the Bay, including the First Nations.
- Access to pristine Georgian Bay island at stake in First Nations deal – Toronto Star – Sept 10th, 2015
- Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim Historical Information
Still in development….