Fort William Northern Boundary Settlement

The Fort William First Nation is located in northwestern Ontario, adjacent to the city of Thunder Bay. It has approximately 1,880 members.

On August 9, 2011, Canada and Ontario settled a 160 year old land claim, the Northern Boundary Claim, with the Fort William First Nation.

History of the Claim:

In 1850, the Ojibway living north of Lake Superior, including the Fort William First Nation, signed the Robinson Superior Treaty. Under this treaty, the Ojibway surrendered the entire area except for the land that was to be set aside as reserve land. In return, the Ojibway received a cash payment. The reserve, as was described in the treaty, was on the south bank of the Kaministiqua River.

Problems began to occur, however, when the Fort William First Nation claimed that the location and size of the reserve described in the treaty was not what they had agreed to during the treaty negotiations – the reserve land was much smaller. In 1859, the Band asked the Crown to expand the reserve land and provide the Band with the amount of land that was promised during the negotiations. The Crown did not give them more land.

The Band submitted a claim to Canada in 1986 and to Ontario in 1987. According to the claim, the size and location of the Fort William Reserve was not what the Band had agreed to during the negotiations that occurred in 1850. They argued that the reserve land should have been much larger.

Canada finally accepted the claim for negotiations in 1994, followed by Ontario in 2000.

The Settlement:

In 2011, the specific claim was settled. The settlement agreement reached between Canada, Ontario, and the Fort William First Nation includes $149,442,595 in financial compensation. In addition, Ontario will transfer 4,311 hectares of lands to Canada to be created as a reserve for the Band. The lands are located in Lake Superior, Flatland and Pie Island.

Following the settlement, the First Nation completed a Trust Agreement which outlines how the Band will use the funds so that it will benefit current and future generations. The settlement will help create economic development. Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins is quoted in a news release on the AANDC website:

“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." The land component of this settlement is also very important – the Band will be able to use the land to create business opportunities and stable job".

In the same news release, Chris Bentley, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for Ontario also added, "This settlement will provide immediate benefits for the Fort William community and open up economic development opportunities by creating investment certainty and jobs in the Thunder Bay region, which is a key component of our Open Ontario Plan."

Accessed on July 10, 2012 at: http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1290537681728