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Who has the right to Ontario’s Algonquin lands? – TVO

by pmnationtalk on November 22, 2017294 Views

ANALYSIS: David Tabachnick writes that after several decades of talks, it’s still unclear who should speak for the Algonquin people in a massive land claim process

November 21, 2017

NORTH BAY — There are many unsettled issues related to Indigenous rights and self-government in Canada, but there’s broad consensus on one point: Aboriginal rights are collective in nature. They are held by communities, and facilitated by a deep and abiding bond between the people and the land. In turn, the settlement of land claims is of critical importance to Indigenous people so that they can actually practise their rights.

Here’s the inherent challenge of collective rights, however: Groups often contain smaller groups within them, and the interests of those subgroups do not always align with those of the whole.

That’s the conundrum facing the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO), which represents approximately 10,000 members. Since the early 1990s it has been negotiating the transfer of approximately 117,500 acres of Ontario Crown land — running from around Hawkesbury to North Bay — to Algonquin ownership. This is the largest piece of land under treaty negotiation in Ontario.

Last year, the membership voted overwhelmingly to accept an agreement in principle to settle the claim. Around the same time, members of the Pikwakanagan First Nation, one of the 10 communities represented by the AOO, held a separate vote and cast their ballots decisively against the deal (74% rejected the deal, 26% voted to accept).

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