Investigation requested on native land claim approval
An investigation has been requested into the conduct of a senior official in Ontario Indigenous Affairs Ministry for allegedly not acting in accordance with the Public Services Act regarding a native land claim
What is significant about this current land claim, is that the same person for Wiikwemkoong's 1995 first land claim is back in charge and appears to have approved their second land claim while ignoring evidence and promises made during the first settlement agreement. Nearby residents and seasonal visitors presented a multitude of concerns and evidence which refutes the historical validity of the land claim. However, OIA has mostly ignored public input and appears determined to proceed and include even more land than requested.
It is alleged that OIA ignored evidence, is promoting a political agenda and is not impartial as it has ignored public usage of these islands extending well before the Wiikwemkoong arrived in Canada from USA.
OIA is taking land designated for a new Provincial Park, apparently without interference. Lands for parks are the purview of another Ministry, but that Ministry has been unwilling or unable to defend its park land on behalf of the public.
The current island land claim also includes four blocks of mainland to expand the 1995 Settlement Agreement which was to have been final. The blocks appear to be strategically selected to block access to waterways entering the reserve. The fourth block at highway 400 and 637 interchange is 60 km from Georgian Bay islands.
The Ministry has not offered a rational explanation for expanding a claim of land for fishing huts on a few Manitoulin islands to unrelated islands and mainland. When questioned about the impact to the public and evidence which does not support the expanded claim, Indigenous Affairs Minister Rickford stated that land claims "allow the government to support Native economic, cultural and community development"
The cottage association is currently awaiting results of the investigation. Further information available at http://www.saveourislands.ca