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Great Lakes Article:

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 of the
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 of Ontario
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 Chief Beaucage.

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. Anishinabek tradition
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," said Grand
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, E-mail:
goubob@anishinabek.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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