Bancroft This Week - November 26, 2004
Algonquin Land Claim Process hinges on participation
BY KRISTINA CHRYSSANTHIS
|Robert J. Potts, principal negotiator
for the Algonquin Land Claim.
Algonquin land claim process should pick up momentum by the end of this month,
depending on how successful two public information sessions go in the Bancroft
and Whitney areas.
J. Potts, principal negotiator for the Algonquin land claim, has called two
public information meetings to inform people of Algonquin ancestry, about the
current status of the claim process, and in particular, the upcoming elections
of the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives (ANR).
Cannon, land claim regional representative for the Bancroft area, said the
community wants to hear what the lawyers have to say before the people make any
depends on what happens at that meeting and what the community gets out of that
meeting," she said. Cannon said the Bancroft community is 10 months behind
in the consultation process, and have a lot of information to catch up on.”
started in December last year between the Algonquin Native Tribal Council and
the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan," she said.
"We weren't approached until September or October when the lawyers
got in touch with us.”
Whiteduck, chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, hopes these two communities
will join in the efforts.
least eight communities in Ontario need to be represented on the Algonquin
negotiations committee. "We're
trying to get them involved, we're trying to arrange meetings to explain the
process," Whiteduck said.
"We have an obligation to contact the people of decent."
said this is just the beginning of the land claim process and they want to
provide information to the Algonquin people who otherwise might not be aware of
the issues at hand. "This is just a step to dealing with things at the
negotiating table," Whiteduck said.
"I think they'll see it as fair and open."
June 1991, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan and the provincial government formally
began the process of negotiations to work toward the settlement of an age-old
outstanding land claim.
In December 1992, the federal government joined the negotiation process
and in 1994 the three parties signed the Framework for Negotiations.
The process has moved slowly since then and was stalled
2003, the Algonquin people of Ontario contacted Potts, a senior partner with the
Toronto-based law firm Blaney McMurtry LLP, to act as the principal negotiator
in their Ottawa River Valley land claim.
best part is that I come to this without any baggage and I don't plan on
acquiring any," Potts said.
"I'm simply looking at this as a go-forward project, not unlike the
numbers that I have settled in the past."
is well versed in the legal, political and economic issues surrounding native
He has successfully negotiated seven land claim settlements in Alberta
and Ontario on behalf of First Nation people and is currently engaged in the Big
Stone land claim in Alberta.
Algonquin claim addendum calls for an independent election process for
communities that include Sharbot Lake, Mattawa/North Bay, Greater Golden Lake,
Ardoch, Antoine, Bonnechere, Bancroft, Whitney and other communities within
the region comprised of Algonquins.
identified that there are eight communities that we know of, there may be more
if they demonstrate it," Potts said.
"Bancroft and Whitney, we are still awaiting some indication of
their interest in participating, but we know
that there are probably the requisite number of people there and we're very
hopeful they'll be part of the process."
said most of the Algonquin communities are interested in joining the negotiation
process. "We've had community meetings and I think the majority of people
are aware of what's going on," he said.
and foremost, Potts has to get all the communities on board. "My primary
task has been to try to get these people at a table with a group that could be
recognized by all concerned as being fully representative through an independent
process," Potts said. The primary focal point is to inform all Algonquin
going to focus on making sure that we have a group at the table that everyone
feels that they can have some confidence in and there won't be any political
issues about," Potts said.
Pikwakanagan council will support the negotiation process but will not be
directly involved in the elections.
expectation is that the chief and council will be at the table, but we won't be
Algonquin Negotiation Representatives," Whiteduck said.
in 2003, Potts didn't realized that he needed negotiators before he could start
the land claim settlement negotiations. "When I first became involved, the
first problem that I thought had to be addressed was who was going to be a
beneficiary, assuming that we can get this claim settled," he said.
"It soon became apparent to me that isn't the principal question;
the question is who is going to be at the table so we can proceed in a way that
people will not be second guessing and questioning." Potts is unaware of
the actual size of the parcel of land in question.
issues in relation to land and money and other parts of what might be an
appropriate settlement are not the primary issue right now, the primary issue is
to get a table populated by people who can be regarded as representative of the
said some details of the claim itself are still unclear. As far as the land
claim goes, it's a bit of a grey area at this point," he said.
ANR's only role is to take direction from the Algonquin electorate in a
community of at least I25 people and to provide direction to the principal
negotiator during the upcoming land claim negotiations with the federal and
Each ANR will hold a three-year term.
Algonquin electors have the right to stand as a candidate for the ANR position.
"We'll have an electoral list of people who's background will not be
challengeable in the sense that they will have lineage to the Algonquin people
who were attempting to resolve these claims many, many years ago," Potts
genealogist researcher is currently
reviewing the criteria of more than
I,300 Algonquin people who have a geographical connection to the
The review process is expected to be complete within the next two months,
objective is to try and call an election near the end of this year," he
"We will post lists of people who are electors, as we understand
them, in the various communities."
said the elections will take approximately 60 days to hold.
It will take 30 days to get people nominated and another 30 days for
people to have an opportunity to present their positions in public meetings.
"The elections will hopefully take place in the spring," Potts said.
more information, visit the webpage http://www.blaney.com/algonquin.htm
or call, toll-free, at I-877-287-4570.
Page created by: muckwa
Changes last made on: December 5, 2004.