Missanabie Cree First Nation gets reserve status
'Historic achievement' for First Nation, NAN grand chief says
The Missanabie Cree First Nation is receiving reserve status from the federal government.
"I think that it is bittersweet in a lot of ways," Missanabie chief Jason Gauthier said.
"There have been a lot of people who have passed on, waiting in the last 112 years, including parents, grandparents who will never see us return to the traditional territory. It has made our people very emotional, but they are happy. It is long overdue."
The leadership of the Missanabie Cree have been asking for a reserve ever since Treaty 9 was signed in 1905 and 1906.
In 2010, the First Nation completed an agreement with the Government of Ontario for a land transfer of close to 39 square kilometres, or 9,600 acres.
However, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), it took another eight years for the Canadian government to designate the land as a reserve.
"This is a historic achievement, Missanabie Cree First Nation members should be proud of," NAN grand chief Alvin Fiddler said.
"This took a tremendous amount of work and we are grateful for the efforts of everyone involved. This is a major accomplishment but still just the beginning of a long journey for the people of Missanabie Cree."
Ontario regional chief RoseAnne Archibald says it's important for all Canadians and Indigenous people to remember Treaties are in place.
"We were never meant to live on tiny reserves with limited or no economic base," she said.
"While this land designation is a huge win for the Missanabie Cree, there are still many victories to come before all our peoples and all Ontarians, will be able to prosper as equals."
Chief Gauthier says the next steps include designating different areas of the reserve through a planning study for residential, commercial and agricultural needs for the community.
Missanabie Cree First Nation is located in the Algoma District within the boundaries of Chapleau Game Preserve in northeastern Ontario.