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Matachewan First Nation gains ground with treaty settlement claim

Province rights ‘historic wrong’ in transitioning 5,000 acres from Crown land to reserve territory
Matachewan First Nation (Photo sourced from Hydro One blog post)

Matachewan First Nation has picked up 5,000 acres of provincial Crown land to add to its reserve.

Last week, Matachewan Chief Alex 'Sonny' Batisse, Will Bouma, parliamentary assistant to provincial Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree announced the settlement of a treaty land entitlement claim for the northeastern Ontario community.

This delivers on promises made to First Nations a long time ago when Treaty #9  — the James Bay Treaty — was signed in 1906. That treaty provided 640 acres per family of five (128 acres per member), but Matachewan First Nation didn’t received all the land that it was promised.

The Matachewan First Nation is located north of the Township of Matachewan, about 60 kilometres west of Kirkland Lake and about 70 kilometres southeast of Timmins. 

In 2019, the federal government provided $16 million in compensation and a provision for the First Nation to seek to add at least 4,572 acres to reserve. 

Ontario has made good by providing Matachewan First Nation with $590,000 in compensation and 5,027.7 acres of Crown land.

The negotiation process began in 2012 with consultation sessions running from 2015 to 2022.

“The settlement of our treaty land entitlement claim will benefit the community’s economic and social development in so many ways,” said Batisse in a statement.

“It is with great honour and pride to our ancestors and our future generations to come, that we have been able to right a historic wrong against the citizens of Matachewan First Nation, through the settlement of our treaty land entitlement claim.

“The Settlement Agreement honours a treaty promise, and although there were many significant challenges to work through and many long years of negotiations to reach fair compensation for our treaty land entitlement claim, we are enthusiastic to move forward to complete the addition to reserve process.”