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Photo courtesy Naicatchewenin First Nation

$21.8 million flood claim settlement finalized

By Randy Thoms May 9, 2024 | 3:30 PM

The federal and provincial governments will pay out almost $22 million to an area First Nation.

The funding compensates Naicatchewenin First Nation for a flooding claim first filed in 1996.

The community, located on Rainy Lake about 60 kilometres northwest of Fort Frances, had lands flooded in 1905 following the construction of the dam on the Rainy River at International and Fort Frances.

This settlement will see Ontario paying out $10,008,809, with Canada covering the remaining $11,807,068.

Chief Wayne Smith calls it a fair settlement for the historical damage caused.

“The Government’s efforts in honouring their legal obligation is a positive step towards addressing historical wrongs and advancing reconciliation with our Nation,” says Smith.

“We cannot compensate the ancestors who physically and mentally experienced the effects of this original action, but we will continue to invest in our Youth, Elders and Band members in the constant effort to make better lives for the people of our Nation.”

Jaime Battiste, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, hopes the agreement helps with federal efforts to rebuild trust with the community.

“In this case, Canada failed to protect the reserve lands people relied on. In other instances, Canada was not a good Treaty partner. There is a lot of work ahead, but as we celebrate this step in the right direction, we also reaffirm our efforts to build trust with the people of Naicatchewenin First Nation,” says Battiste.

It took seven years before the provincial government accepted the claim for negotiation and another six to be accepted by the federal government.

Residents of Naicatchewenin held a ratification vote last September to accept the settlement.

The province attached its signature a month later, with the federal government signing off in January.

“The agreement, achieved through fair, respectful and meaningful negotiation, will enhance the social and economic well-being of the community and bring greater prosperity to the surrounding region,” says Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River.