History of the Community Trust
Michipicoten First Nation was the first to begin a new and innovative approach to resolving multiple land claims by a single First Nation.
“ We want to build on your strengths and develop the real potential of these lands and of our peoples, but in order to do so we need to clear up our historic grievances with Canada and regain control of as much of our land as possible.”
Michipicoten First Nation Chief Sam Stone (1996)
The Michipicoten First Nation began working together collaboratively with Indian and Northern Affairs in 1997, to resolve multiple specific land claims of the Michipicoten First Nation. The pilot project was designed to improve the specific land claim process, saving time and money and building better relationships between Canada and First Nations.
In 1850, Ojibway Chief Totononai signed a Robinson Superior Treaty on behalf of his people, gaining, in return, a promise from Canada to survey and set aside a reserve for the Michipicoten in the Gros Cap area. It was brought to Indian and Northern Affairs attention by former Chief Sam Stone that the Michipicoten First Nation had lost and gained reserve land and how villages have been relocated several times, raising nine potential specific claims.
The Algoma Claims were about surrenders of Reserve land in 1855, 1899, and 1900 that Canada agrees were all invalid. All of the surrendered land, totaling 2,111 acres, ended up in the hands of the Algoma group of companies, so the claims were negotiated together through the Michipicoten Pilot Project.
On June 24, 2003 the members were advised that there were three significant developments. First, a date for the referendum had been agreed upon – November 1, 2003. Secondly, it had been agreed upon that there were would be a cash payment of $2,000 to each and every member who is alive on the day of the vote. Money for children would be held in the Trust Fund, with interest, until their 18th birthday. Thirdly, the first round of consultation meetings with members was completed on the Reserve, in Sudbury and in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Settlement Agreement provided for net compensation of $11,685,240 that was paid into a Trust Fund. This figure was arrived at by adding the value of the land (about $2 million) to be negotiated amounts for lost rent ($5 million), lost forestry income ($3 million) and other losses including lost opportunities ($1.7 million).
The Settlement Agreement contained provisions to fully and finally settle the three Algoma Claims from a legal perspective, which was the objective of the Pilot Project. Therefore, in exchange for the compensation, Michipicoten agreed to never take Canada to court in the future over these claims.
The Settlement Agreement had provisions to clarify the title of the 2,111 acres covered by the invalid surrenders. The provisions made had Michipicoten giving up all historic claims to the land in exchange for the compensation, but will not prevent Michipicoten from buying back some or all of the claim land and having it returned to the Reserve.
The Trust fund was set up and operated according to the rules approved by the members. The Trust Fund will last more than 100 years, and provide long-term benefits for ALL Michipicoten members, no matter where they live (on and off-reserve).
A Board of Trustees was appointed for the administrating of the Trust Fund. Members of the Trust must be band members, must be 25 years or older, and must not be part of the Chief and Council.
The Trust Agreement specifies that there is to be nine Trustees on the Board, five of which must always be from on reserve, and one who is a legal representative.