Aamjiwnaang and Kettle & Stony Point voting on historic land settlement

Aamjiwnaang Office (BlackburnNews.com File Photo by Briana Carnegie)

Aamjiwnaang and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nations are being asked to ratify a final settlement agreement for a 167-year-old claim.

The Government of Canada has agreed to pay $35,728,354 as compensation for the misuse of funds from the sale of lands in 1853.

J. B. Clench, a superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1830 to 1854, was responsible for distributing funds from the land sales, but an investigation found he misappropriated the money and the Indigenous communities never received a penny.

Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Chief Jason Henry, in a video message to the community on Facebook, said the specific claim is in regard to a portion of land in what is now downtown Sarnia.

“This took place after Walpole Island separated from the Sarnia Indian Band and it happened prior to 1919, when Kettle and Stony Point separated from the Sarnia Indian Band,” said Henry. “It was a rather small tract of land and it was sold at an auction at a pub in downtown Sarnia. The proceeds of that (sale), never made it back to the general coffers of what was then termed the Sarnia Indian Band.”

Kettle & Stony Point First Nation Chief Jason Henry at a provincial funding announcement in Watford. 14 August 2020. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Colin Gowdy)

Kettle & Stony Point First Nation Chief Jason Henry.

The fraud was swept under the rug for over 100 years, until a mediator was brought in and an inquiry into the “Clench Defalcation” was held in 1997.

Henry said the First Nations submitted a joint claim in 2008 and a settlement offer has been in negotiations for the last several years.

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has already accepted the terms which would see $18,513,445, or 52 per cent of the claim, given to Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

The other 48 per cent, or $17,214,909, would be directed to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

Henry said a ratification vote will be held at Kettle and Stony Point First Nation on November 13, in conjunction with its upcoming election.

Aamjiwnaang Band Manager June Simon told Blackburn News their ratification vote date is unknown at this time.

Details on how the money would be used or distributed have not been shared.