NAICATCHEWENIN – Settling an old flood claim “is a positive step towards addressing historical wrongs and advancing reconciliation,” Chief Wayne Smith said.

Along with provincial and federal representatives, the Naicatchewenin chief announced a settlement that sees his First Nation receive $21.8 million in total compensation.

Just over $11.8 million of that sum is from the federal government, the remainder from Ontario.

The agreement between Naicatchewenin and the other two governments settles flood claims first filed by the First Nation nearly 30 years ago relating to flooding that took place following the 1905-10 construction of a hydroelectric dam to provide power for a pulp and paper mill in Fort Frances.

The flooding continues to impact Naicatchewenin, located northwest of Fort Frances on Rainy Lake.

Compensating Naicatchewenin is important to advancing reconciliation and rebuilding trust with Indigenous communities, according to a news release from the federal government.

The settlement agreement followed years of negotiation and was ratified by Naicatchewenin First Nation membership in a September 2023 vote.

The negotiated settlement is “reconciliation in action,” provincial Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said at an event in Naicatchewenin this week.

The agreement “will enhance the social and economic well-being of the community and bring greater prosperity to the surrounding region,” added Rickford, who represents Kenora-Rainy River in the Ontario legislature.

There are historical instances of Canada not being “a good treaty partner,” said Jaime Battiste, an MP for a B.C. riding who is parliamentary secretary to the federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister.

“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,” Battiste added.

There are four other First Nations that filed flooding claims related to the dam.

Mitaanjigamiing and Nigigoonsiminikaaning reached a settlement with Ontario and Canada in 2022.

Seine River First Nation reached a settlement with Ontario and Canada last year.

Couchiching First Nation provided information about a proposed settlement to community members last year.

By Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 10, 2024 at 17:05

This item reprinted with permission from   Thunder Bay Source   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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