Wiikwemkoong Islands Land Claim

Crown lands remain accessible to area visitors this year

Camping, picnicking, exploring, berry picking and other uses of Crown lands along the northern coast of Georgian Bay near Killarney village will continue this summer. This includes Philip Edward Island, a popular camping spot for kayakers and canoeists. Some of these lands are part of a Native land claim that is still in the consultation phase and is expected to remain unsettled for several more years. For more information about the Claim, see below.

The Wiikwemkoong Islands Specific Claim (also called the 41 Islands Claim) 

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Indian Reserve is located on the eastern portion of Manitoulin Island, and also has lands on the mainland, known as Point Grondine Reserve. This northern boundary of the Reserve abuts the Killarney Highway (Hwy 637). Its southern boundary follows the coastline of Georgian Bay, near the east end of Philip Edward Island and beyond.

Wiikwemkoong first filed a claim for the 41 islands in the mid-1980s, and then a court case for 23,000 islands. In 2006, negotiations formally began on the 41 Islands Specific Claim. The court case for 23,000 islands is on hold until the 41 Islands Claim is settled. The public consultation phase for this Claim ended on January 6th, 2016. The Province is also conducting an environmental assessment on the lands in the proposed settlement agreement as well as consulting with interested Aboriginal stakeholders.

The Municipality’s response to the Claim

Members of Council considered information about the Islands Specific Claim over the course of several months, as outlined below.   

An information session hosted by the OMAA was held in the community hall in the fall of 2015, for the purpose of providing ratepayers with an opportunity to become informed about the Claim. The OMAA invited the Municipality and the general public to provide their Ministry with feedback about the proposed land settlement agreement.

On September 16th, 2015, the Municipality held a public meeting of its own, at which ratepayers were encouraged to present their views to Council regarding the land claim.

On September 30nd, 2015, a delegation of Council members met informally with the Chief and some staff of the Wiikwemkoong Band, to discuss a number of related concerns.

Members of Council considered every piece of correspondence that the Municipality received on the issue from various ratepayers.


Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)

Staff provided Council with in-depth historical and current information about the Claim for their consideration. This information was collected by the Clerk-Treasurer from the OMAA, and also by the Project Manager from various relevant ministries and from historical/genealogical records.

After considering all of the information as well as the opinions and needs of its ratepayers, Council concluded that working in partnership with Wiikwemkoong will provide its people with opportunities and benefits that would not result from taking an adversarial approach.

The Municipality’s official written response to the Wiikwemkoong land claim was provided to Richard Aniol, Senior Negotiator for the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, on November 6th, 2015. It included a discussion of the concerns raised by its ratepayers, and notified the OMAA that discussions had begun with the Wiikwemkoong Band, with the aim of forming a partnership to address mutually beneficial projects and initiatives.

In February 2016, the Mayor and Council members, along with the Clerk-Treasurer, traveled to the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Reserve, where they participated in a special ceremony that marked the signing of a historic Memorandum of Understanding between the two communities.

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Indian Reserve

Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (OMAA)
Wiikwemkoong Islands Claim
Contact Person:
Richard Aniol, Senior Negotiator
Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs  
Tel: 416-314-6313
Fax: 416-326-4017
Email: richard.aniol@ontario.ca

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF)
When land is being considered as part of a land claim settlement, the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs works closely with MNRF to ensure the legislative requirements under the Class EA for Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects are met during the negotiation process.  

The land transfer may impact existing Crown land uses in the area, including licenses or permits. Consultation is undertaken with all potentially affected stakeholders, including municipalities, cottager associations, and Aboriginal communities whose Aboriginal and/or treaty rights may be impacted by the transfer of land. The purpose of the consultations is to understand and identify historic and current uses of the lands proposed for transfer, any impacts on those uses, and how best to mitigate impacts in a fair and reasonable manner.

Background and 2015 Proposed Amendments to the Class EA:

Class EA for Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects document:

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
(Formerly Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada)
The federal government participated in the negotiations until late 2013, when they withdrew due to related litigation brought by the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (Manitoulin Island).

To access their fact sheet, click here…

For information on their specific claims policy and process, click here…