Algonquin reach draft land claim deal in eastern Ontario
Land claim includes 36,000 square kilometres in eastern Ontario, including Parliament Hill
The Algonquins of Ontario have reached a draft agreement in principle on a land claim that covers a massive area of eastern Ontario after more than two decades of negotiations.
The claim, which covers 36,000 square kilometres stretching from North Bay to the Quebec border, has been the centre of talks between the Algonquin people and the Ontario and federal governments.
The Ontario government received the first draft of the land claim in 1985 but negotiations did not start until six years later.
The agreement involves 117,000 acres of provincial Crown land that, if the agreement is finalized, would be transferred to 10 Algonquin communities as well as $300 million.
The draft needs more negotiations and the Algonquin people and each government will vote on it before any treaty is signed.
Lawyer Bob Potts of Blaney McMurtry LLP, who represents the Algonquin people, said this is the "beginning of a landmark."
"These were always Algonquin lands. They've been waiting 240 years to actually get a treaty," he said.
Claim includes Parliament Hill, CFB Petawawa
In the Ottawa area, the Algonquin claim involves CFB Petawawa, Parliament Hill and the old CFB Rockcliffe airbase. No private property will be expropriated.
The chief of the Pikwàkanagàn reserve, in the Golden Lake area west of Ottawa, would not say if he would vote in favour of this draft.
"It has mixed reviews," said Kirby Whiteduck, "A lot of people will think it should be more. You may not be jumping up and down, but is it acceptable and can we work with it?"
The province's chief negotiator, Brian Crane, said groups with rights throughout the transferred land, such as timber and mining groups, would be protected.
Each side stressed to CBC News this is only a preliminary step and there will be re-writes that require approval.