Mistawasis First Nation Inquiry: 1911, 1917 and 1919 Surrenders

Publication Information

From the Introduction: "In October 1992, the Mistawasis First Nation submitted a claim to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), alleging that three land surrenders taken of certain portions of the Mistawasis Indian Reserve (IR) 103, received after the First Nation signed Treaty 6, were null and void on various grounds. The claim, which was filed under the federal Specific Claims Policy, specifically contended that the Crown had breached its fiduciary obligations to the Band in obtaining the surrenders, and that the surrenders were obtained as a result of undue influence, in unconscionable circumstances, and in violation of the terms of the Indian Act. -------------------------------------- The claim was reviewed by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Department of Justice, in accordance with the Specific Claims process. On August 10, 1994, Jack Hughes, of Specific Claims West, informed the Chief and Council of the Mistawasis First Nation of the federal government’s preliminary position regarding the claim. According to Mr Hughes’s letter, the Government of Canada was prepared to accept part of the claim for negotiation, on the basis that the Crown apparently failed to administer and collect proceeds from the 1911 surrender and sale in a proper manner.2 At the request of the solicitor for the Band, the Specific Claims Branch undertook further research and reviewed its preliminary position with respect to the 1917 and 1919 surrenders. As a result, Jack Hughes advised the Chief and Council, by letter dated October 4, 1994, that Canada was also prepared to accept portions of the claim relating to the two later surrenders, on essentially the same basis as that upon which they had agreed to negotiate the 1911 surrender.3 A formal letter to this effect was sent to Chief Daniels on November 3, 1994, by Assistant Deputy Minister John Sinclair.4 ---------------------------------------------------- In the First Nation’s view, this response did not sufficiently address its historical grievances. As a result, on August 29, 1996, its solicitor, Lesia Ostertag, wrote to the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) asking the Commission to review the rejected portions of its claim.5 On September 9, 1996, Commission Counsel Ron Maurice wrote to the director general of the Specific Claims Branch and to the senior general counsel of DIAND Legal Services to inform them that the Commission had agreed to conduct an inquiry into the matter.6 On September 20, the First Nation requested that the Commission put the inquiry into abeyance, pending the outcome of negotiations on the accepted portions of the claim. When those negotiations did not prove successful, the First Nation requested the ICC to proceed with the inquiry into the rejected portions of the claim, in May 1998.7 ------------------------------------------------ As part of the Commission’s inquiry into this claim, a planning conference was held on January 5, 1999, at which the formulation of the issues in the claim was discussed extensively. A community session was also held at the reserve on June 15, 1999. At this time, Commission staff heard evidence from several of the community’s elders.------------------------------------- Settlement discussions took place between the parties throughout the year 2000, and as a result the inquiry was again placed in abeyance. In the spring of 2001, the Commission was informed that the Mistawasis First Nation had ratified a Surrender Settlement Agreement with the Government of Canada.8 ---------------------------------------------- As a result of this process, the Commission suspended its inquiry into the claim and was not required to make any findings. This report is based on historical reports and documents submitted to the Commission by the Mistawasis First Nation and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development." Pg 1-2.

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Mistawasis First Nation Inquiry: 1911, 1917 and 1919 Surrenders