Algonquins Claim Mattawa Valley
Algonquins Claim Mattawa Valley
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Algonquins claiming?
The Algonquins of Ontario claim that:
Their Aboriginal rights and title to 14,000 square miles (36,000 square kilometres) of the Ottawa and Mattawa River watersheds within Ontario have never been extinguished
They never entered into a treaty with the Crown
They have continuing ownership to the entire Ottawa Valley and its resources.
They are looking for financial compensation for their loss of the land and its natural resources, for titled land and for harvesting rights.
What area is included in this claim?
The Algonquin claim covers an area of 8.9 million acres (14,000 square miles), which represents the Ottawa River watershed and the south-east portion of the Mattawa River watershed within Ontario.
Copies of a map depicting the claim area are available to the public.
Why is Ontario negotiating this claim?
The Canadian Constitution recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal rights and provides them with protection against government infringements that cannot be justified according to legal principles. The Algonquins of Ontario have made a claim based on rights to land and natural resources within eastern and central Ontario. The claim asserts that those rights, which include traditional Algonquin harvesting activities such as hunting and fishing, were never surrendered to the Crown.
Through a negotiated resolution of this claim, Canada and Ontario are trying to address how the Aboriginal rights advanced by the Algonquins can be given reasonable expression in today’s world and into the future.
At the same time, negotiation presently offers the best route to protect and fairly address the concerns and interests of all the residents in the claim area. The alternative might well involve lengthy and costly litigation, in which the final outcome, including fair treatment of parties who could be affected by a settlement, would be subject to a decision of the courts.
Ontario believes that negotiation with the Algonquins and the federal government still remains the best route to a lasting and affordable settlement.
Is this claim valid?
Based on an historical and legal review of this claim, Ontario has determined that there are sufficient grounds to seek a negotiated resolution of the Algonquin claim. Ontario has not admitted legal liability however.
Canada, having conducted its own analysis, came to a similar conclusion and in 1992 agreed to become a full partner at the negotiation table. The costs of the settlement will be shared between Canada and Ontario.
How long do you expect the negotiations to take?
While it is impossible to set a precise timetable for the completion of such complex negotiations, the three parties are attempting to reach an Agreement-in-Principle in 2011.
What is happening at the negotiations?
The three negotiating parties meet for formal negotiation sessions each month. The current negotiations are aimed at achieving an Agreement-In-Principle in 2011. After the parties approve an Agreement-in-Principle, its terms will be set out in legal language in a Final Agreement. The Final Agreement will need to be ratified by the Algonquins through a vote. Once that is achieved, it will go to the Ontario Legislature and then the Parliament of Canada for debate and approval.
What will a settlement involve?
The settlement is expected to include a financial package, parcels of titled land, economic development opportunities and an agreement on harvesting rights, including hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.
Ontario is working towards an Agreement-in-Principle that all parties consider fair, affordable and enduring over time, and which will bring economic benefits to eastern Ontario.
How will this claim affect land owners?
Privately owned land will not be expropriated for the land claim settlement. The rights of private land owners to make use of and access their land will be protected.
Any privately held land that might form part of the settlement package will be transferred only if there is both a willing seller and a willing buyer.
How will this claim affect hunting in the area?
Issues related to future Algonquin hunting and fishing rights will need to be clearly addressed as central questions in these negotiations. Ontario will ensure that Algonquin settlement agreement harvesting rights will be fairly balanced with continuing non-Aboriginal interests, both inside Algonquin Park and across the claim area.
There are a number of considerations that will need to be addressed with respect to harvesting, including the strong interest in hunting and fishing by non-Aboriginal people, other interests that might be impacted, and conservation.
While the annual harvesting arrangements have been refined over the years to reflect topics such as fluctuations in wildlife populations, the most current Algonquin hunt management plan remains similar to those that have been established since 1991, ensuring that Algonquin big game food harvesting activities are conducted in a safe, orderly and sustainable manner.
Since 2003, the Algonquins have conducted their moose harvests using a tag system which is similar to that used by hunters throughout the rest of the province. The Algonquin harvest targets are negotiated with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and based on that ministry’s survey information.
The annual arrangements contain clear provisions which set out when and where the hunt can occur, what the total harvest is to be, who is eligible to hunt, and required enforcement provisions.
Anyone who asserts Algonquin rights, and meets the eligibility criteria established by the Algonquins, is eligible to hunt under the terms of the Algonquin hunt management plan. The annual hunting arrangements have always put conservation first and have tried to balance the interests of all users.
Previous Algonquin hunt management plans took the form of signed agreements for a number of years. Copies of those hunting agreements signed by Ontario and the Algonquins are available through the Pembroke Information Centre.
Is Algonquin Park included in the negotiations?
It is Ontario’s position that Algonquin Park will remain a provincial park under the general management of the Province of Ontario.
How can the public be involved?
In keeping with the firm commitment by the Ontario government to actively promote greater public involvement in the conduct of land claim negotiations, we continue to encourage members of the public to provide us with input and advice.
The Ontario Information Centre for the Algonquin Land Claim, based in Pembroke, was established in 1993. This office serves the public by providing accurate and current information about the negotiations. It also offers interested members of the public direct access to Ontario’s negotiating team.
Preliminary work, including open houses and meetings with groups, organizations and individuals interested in the claim, took place in various locations within and beyond the claim area as early as 1993. These efforts will continue as required.
Since 1996, parties interested in and potentially affected by the Algonquin claim have had a direct link with Ontario’s negotiating team. These connections were created through the Committee of External Advisors and the Municipal Advisory Committee. The co-chairs of both of these advisory committees participate as full members of the negotiating team. The Coalition of Concerned Citizens is another avenue for such ongoing consultations.