Kettle & Stony Point announces land claim settlement distribution

Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. 24 August 2020. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Melanie Irwin)

Kettle and Stony Point First Nation has announced a distribution plan for the settlement payment from a 168-year-old land claim.

Last year, the Government of Canada agreed to pay the First Nation $17,214,909 as its share of a $35,728,354 settlement that also included Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The payments are compensation for the misuse of funds from the sale of lands in 1853.

In a letter, Kettle and Stony Point Chief Jason Henry said council has decided to distribute 75 per cent of the funds to community members immediately, and hold the remaining 25 per cent for infrastructure investments following community consultation.

“For community members who are minors, the funds will be placed into trust until they turn 18 years of age, at which time they will be entitled to the entire amount plus interest earned,” said Henry.

Chief Henry said the finance department is working diligently to prepare cheques for distribution.

“This will take a short time to coordinate as it is currently fiscal year-end and they are extremely busy with audit preparations and budget approvals. Look forward to a notice from the finance department in regards to dates for distribution of cheques.”

Chief Henry said the decision was not made in haste and many factors were considered.

“Ultimately, it was chief and council’s understanding that the majority of the community are suffering from the unprecedented financial issues derived from the current global pandemic.”

The historic claim concerned the sale of land in what is now downtown Sarnia that occurred after Walpole Island separated from the Sarnia Indian Band, and prior to 1919 when Kettle and Stony Point separated.

An investigation found that J. B. Clench, a superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1830 to 1854, misappropriated land sale proceeds and the Indigenous communities never received a penny.

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.

Aamjiwnaang announced its distribution plans in February.