Do settled land claims count as reconciliation?

One of Ontario’s First Nations has finally settled an outstanding land claim.

As part of the settlement Mitaanjigamiing will have 1656 hectares added to their reserve and a financial compensation package including $23 million from Canada and $1.8 million from Ontario.

The negotiated agreement settles the Treaty Land Entitlement claim by providing land owed to the community under the terms of Treaty 3.

The claim settles dispute that started in 1873, close to 145 years ago.

Mitaanjigamiing, formerly known as Stanjikoming First Nation or Rainy Lake, has just 167 band members. So if you do the math based on populations alone that is roughly $150,000 per band member – not including the value of lands returned to the community.

Congratulations to that community on the settling of that long outstanding claim.

But what does that mean for Six? Is this the going rate for reconciliation? If we go by those numbers Six Nations is owed about 3 billion dollars in compensation.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation, said the settlement was a “milestone” and called it a “historic settlement to help right a past wrong”.

David Zimmer, Ontarios Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation said it was an “important step on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with indigenous people.”

Official voices are like arrows. And these arrows seem to be pointing at financial compensation plus making amends by granting land base is what reconciliation looks like between Canada, its provinces and indigenous people.

Is that what we want though? What does reconciliation look like for Six Nations? Some would like to see the entire tract’s taxation dollars come to the people of Six Nations. Others want the freedom to reside anywhere in the tract, tax free. These are just ideas I’ve seen shared among friends and other Kahonwe.

In fact, reconciliation, as a member of Six Nations, looks a lot different from over here.

For starters, let’s put actual indigenous people in the positions of Minister of Indigenous Services Canada and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

Next let’s make it illegal for public officials, like Senator Lynn Beyak, to say racist things against anyone from any background – including indigenous people. And make cultural learning and history a mandatory part of their punishment and correction.

For full reconciliation I’d like to see the conservative party, the whole party, come live on the Rez for a month. Let them eat macaroni and tomatoes every day and use the slop bucket before bed – walk a mile in our moccasins friends.

Now I know we have a lot to be thankful for here at Six Nations. We are relatively ‘urban’ compared to some of the remote and northern communities. And we have a blossoming economy. Our community is peppered with several successful mom and pop shops that employ many of our people. And we have a strong community of language learners and cultural knowledge protectors working to advance indigenous ownership of indigenous traditions.

But for once, it would be great to be the author of what reconciliation could look like from our end instead of being dictated the Canadian interpretation and forced to smile while we accept their form of amending the past.

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