First Nations assert title to Great
Lakes basin waters
CNW Telbec Newswire
Released June 30, 2005
KETTLE & STONY POINT, ON, June 30 /CNW/ - The 42 Chiefs
Anishinabek Nation have advised the eight Great Lakes
Governors, as well as the Governments of Ontario and Quebec
that they will be taking the necessary steps to assert
their aboriginal title and treaty right to govern and
manage lakes and rivers in the Great Lakes watershed.
In a resolution, that was passed unanimously at the Union
Indians annual Grand Council assembly, First Nations Chiefs
authorized the leadership of the Union of Ontario Indians
to take "whatever political or legal action is required
to protect rights and jurisdiction over the waters of
the Great Lakes Basin".
Options under consideration include filing a full claim
for all lake beds
and waterways across the entire Anishinabek territory,
a step already taken in the territories of several individual
First Nations including the Chippewas of Nawash, Chippewas
of Saugeen, and Ojibways of Walpole Island First Nations.
"Our Chiefs will be asserting aboriginal title and
treaty rights," said
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. "Provincial and
state governments are ignoring constitutionally-enshrined
treaty rights by not involving our leaders in discussions
about the future of the waters in our traditional territories."
"We have a primary right to assert our jurisdiction
over the lakebeds ... to ensure that they are protected,
that they are kept clean and that First Nations will be
part of the decision-making process," Grand Council
Anishinabek territory includes the entire Great Lakes
basin: from Thunder Bay - east to the Ottawa Valley; From
the North Shore of Lake Huron and Manitoulin Island -
south to Sarnia.
The Anishinabek Nation represents the greatest number
of First Nations in the Great Lakes basin, and were instrumental
in bringing together a meeting of Great Lakes First Nations
and US Tribes in Niagara Falls in April.
"In most cases our treaties do not cede ownership
over waterbeds or lands under the water," Beaucage
said. "There is substantial case law involving aboriginal
title and consultation and accommodation including the
Supreme Court decisions of Delgamuukw and Haida-Taku.
By asserting our title, we intend to take back control
over what has always been ours."
The province of Ontario and the U.S. States bordering
the Great Lakes
have been negotiating an Implementation Agreement with
respect to the Great Lakes Charter Annex 2001, a regime
to determine such issues as diversion of Great Lakes water.
Today, the Governors and Premiers of the Great Lakes states
and provinces released the latest draft of the Annex Implementation
Agreement for a 60-day public review.
"This is much more than a jurisdictional dispute.
gives our women responsibility as caretakers of the water,
and they are
telling us it is time to act to prevent furthering poisoning
of our rivers and
lakes that has been permitted by federal, provincial and
state governments," added Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
"These are our rights, but this is also our responsibility,"
Council Chief Beaucage. "We will be seeking support
from all people who want their children and grandchildren
to enjoy safe and healthy lakes and rivers."
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario
Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for
42 member First
Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace
its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which
existed long before European contact.
For further information: Bob Goulais, (705) 498-5250,