Specific claims agreements with the Innu of Pessamit result in the largest compensation awarded in Quebec
May 11, 2018 Pessamit, Quebec Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. With the signature of two specific claims agreements with the Innu of Pessamit, we have taken one more step toward reaching this objective and addressing the wrongs First Nations in Quebec experienced in the past.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Chief René Simon, Chief of the Innu Council of Pessamit, today held an official ceremony to honour agreements on two specific claims.
The compensation paid for settling the specific claims is the largest ever agreed to in Quebec. The compensation amounts paid to settle the Licence 160 and Merchantable Timber Management and Lands claims respectively are $20,839,133 and $9,533,017. The compensation covers the costs incurred in negotiating the agreements and having them ratified by the members of the First Nation. Settlement agreements can bring long-term benefits to First Nation members while generating spin-off economic benefits for neighbouring communities and the potential for new business partnerships.
Specific claims relate to the historical grievances of First Nations. These grievances arise from treaty obligations or the way the Crown has managed First Nations funds or assets.
The claim License 160 and Merchantable Timber Management addresses poor management of various logging leases between 1918 and 1967. The Lands claim pertains to the creation of the Betsiamites Reserve. Lack of surveying following amendment of the original reserve resulted in a 7,543-acre shortfall in the total area of the reserve, in breach of the Order in Council passed in 1861 when the reserve was created.
“By balancing the interests of the parties in a spirit of reconciliation, openness and collaboration, it is possible to reach agreements such as those concluded with the Innu of Pessamit. Today’s ceremony is a step towards reconciliation between the Crown and the Innu of Pessamit. We made considerable efforts to face challenges throughout the negotiations and we are here now to celebrate this positive outcome. I am honoured to work with your community to improve our relationship. It is with great pleasure that I join the band council members and members of the community to celebrate these agreements, which will contribute to the renewal of our nation-to-nation relationship.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
“The signing of these agreements betokens Canada’s intent to rectify the wrongs inflicted on the Innu of Pessamit in these two cases. Since the past cannot be undone, our First Nation has accepted these settlements. The real challenge for Canada, though, will still be fully implementing and applying the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and avoiding future recurrence of similar wrongs and the need to conclude reparatory agreements like this.”
Chief Innu Council of Pessamit
- On June 19, 2017, the Innu Council of Pessamit held separate votes on each of the settlement agreements, and the membership ratified the proposed agreements.
- Under the Lands claim settlement, the First Nation may seek to add up to 7,600 replacement acres to the reserve. This land will be freely purchased on the open market, and no land will be expropriated. Any addition of land to reserves will be subject to the Additions to Reserve Policy.
- Canada has no say over the use of compensation paid to a First Nation under a specific claim settlement to a First Nation. The First Nation decides how to use the compensation.
Director of Communications and Issues Management
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Political Office, Pessamit