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Garden River First Nation prepares to vote on potential lawsuit settlement

Vote to take place Saturday at recreation center
Stock photo

Garden River First Nation (GRFN) is reminding its members that the western boundary settlement vote is scheduled to take place Saturday, July 27 at the Garden River Recreation Center, located at 48 Syrette Lake Road beside the education building. 

All GRFN members 18 years of age and older are encouraged to vote on the potential lawsuit settlement, which stems from a survey error of the Anishinaabe community's western boundary dating back to 1853, resulting in 1,700 acres lost. 

According to ratification officer Vaughn Johnston, a minimum of 903 votes from membership are required in order to have a valid vote.

A total of 453 votes must be in favour of the proposed settlement in order for the settlement to be approved. 

The dollar amount of that settlement has not been disclosed to SooToday. 

Voting information for GFRN membership

The vote will take place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 48 Syrette Lake Road (recreation center, located beside education building). 

Votes can be submitted in person or online, as the last day for mail-in ballots to be accepted was Friday, July 26. 

Valid photo identification is required to vote in person.  

Members can click here if they wish to submit their vote online. 

The original news release follows: 

GARDEN RIVER - Chief Paul Syrette of the Garden River First Nation announced today that the ratification process to resolve a lawsuit relating to the western boundary of the Garden River First Nation has begun.

“This is an important moment,” said Chief Syrette. “Garden River First Nation, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada have taken the first step to right an historic wrong for a loss that is almost 170 years old. We are having the ratification on July 27, 2019 and are confident it will succeed and lead to a final settlement that will contribute to our economic and social development. We encourage all our members of voting age to cast their ballot in favour of this proposed settlement.”

There are three ways to vote: in-person, online and mail-in ballot.

Garden River First Nation has been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Ontario and Canada representatives on the lawsuit since 2003. The goal of these discussions was to try to find the common ground that would enable the parties to resolve the lawsuit constructively and co-operatively. Canada, Ontario and Garden River First Nation have developed a good working relationship through this process.

Negotiators for the parties reached an agreement on what constitutes reasonable compensation for the losses to the First Nation as a result of the 1853 survey error.
The western boundary of its First Nation, established under the Robinson-Huron Treaty, was surveyed incorrectly. Certain lands adjacent and to the west of that boundary should have been included within the First Nation at the time of the survey. And certain lands within the First Nation, along its western boundary as originally surveyed, should not have been removed on the basis that they also formed part of a mining location (the “Clarke Location” subsequently the Rankin Location).

The total acreage amounts to approximately 1,700 acres. The current ownership of those lands is not in question and is not at issue in this lawsuit.

The settlement of this lawsuit will open up new opportunities for economic development for Garden River that will bring long-term benefits to its Membership and will also generate positive economic spin-offs for neighbouring communities.
The Garden River First Nation has approximately 2,200 members and is located east Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.