An internal document obtained by Kawartha 411 shows the Curve Lake First Nation Council is planning a meeting to discuss the Williams Treaties Negotiations and Flooding of Reserve Lands and they don’t want any media present.
The document, dated April 18th, 2017 from Chief Phyllis Williams and addressed to Curve Lake members specifically states “Because of the highly confidential nature of this meeting, there will be no media permitted” And it’s from the Chief and Council. The meeting is scheduled for May 31, 2017.
There are seven First Nations involved in the treaties: Alderville First Nation, Beausoleil First Nation, Chippewas of Georgina Island, Chippewas of Rama, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation and Mississaugas of Scugog Island.
The group of seven signed various 18th and 19th century treaties that covered lands in different parts of south central Ontario the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says. After these pre-Confederation treaties were signed, the First Nations maintained that they continued to have an interest in other lands in central Ontario, known as their northern hunting grounds according to the Ministry. These lands had not yet been addressed through treaty and were increasingly being subject to encroachment. To address these outstanding issues, the Williams Treaties were signed between the seven First Nations and the Crown in 1923.
More than 90 years later, questions remain about the making, terms, interpretation and implementation of the Williams Treaties. In 1992, the seven First Nations filed litigation to seek a resolution of this longstanding dispute. The case, known as the Alderville litigation and went to trial in 2012.
The Ministry says The First Nations allege that the Crown breached its duties to them in the making and implementation of the Williams Treaties. In particular, the First Nations allege that they were not fairly compensated for their lands and should have received additional reserve lands at the time of treaty.
Harvesting rights are another key issue raised in the Alderville litigation. The First Nations maintain that the pre-Confederation treaties they signed with the Crown protected harvesting rights and that those rights were not affected by the Williams Treaties and continue to exist according to the government.
In February 2017, the parties agreed to a process to begin formal negotiations toward a negotiated settlement of the Alderville litigation and the court case was adjourned on March 27, 2017 on joint consent of the parties.
Pre-existing treaty harvesting rights of the Williams Treaties First Nations’ members to hunt, trap, fish and gather for food, social and ceremonial purposes in certain areas of pre-Confederation Treaties have been recognized by the Province and Canada. These treaty harvesting rights are constitutionally protected.
The flooding of reserve lands happened in the 1800’s.
In October 2012 the federal government approved a $71-million settlement for three area First Nation communities compensating them for lands flooded during the construction of the Trent-Severn Waterway. The money was to be divided between Curve Lake, Hiawatha, and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations.
It’s unclear why Curve Lake members will be discussing the Flooding after they have already received payment from the government.
We reached out to Chief Phyllis Williams about why this meeting was classified as “highly confidential” and why “there will be no media permitted” and received a terse “No Comment”