First Nations dole out $10,000 federal settlement cheques

Galen Eagle, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 PM ET

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. -- More than 200 people were lined up at the Curve Lake community centre Thursday morning, waiting to get their portion of a $71-million settlement the federal government paid to three First Nations communities.

The feds approved the settlement with Curve Lake, Hiawatha and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations last month after the three communities ratified the agreement in March.

The claim, filed in 1988, compensates the bands for the flooding of about 12,000 acres of island lands in 1837, 1856 and 1880, during the building of the Trent-Severn Waterway, a 386-km canal route through central Ontario lakes and rivers that connects Lakes Huron and Ontario.

The leaders of the communities have been tight-lipped about the settlement and the process of doling out the money to the community.

Curve Lake Chief Phyllis Williams and Hiawatha Chief Sandra Moore have declined to comment on details of the settlement and could not be contacted yesterday.

QMI Agency was forced to leave the community under a police escort Thursday afternoon after trying to interview residents coming and going from the community centre.

Det. Staff Sgt. Faron Whiteye of the Anishinabek Police Service said Chief Williams and the Curve Lake First Nation council have prohibited reporters from the community during the next three days as it deals with a “private event.”

Residents have been told that half the $71-million settlement will be given directly to band members in the form of $10,000 cheques, said Patricia Sunday, 27, who waited for three hours to pick up her cheque. The rest was to be dispersed between the three band councils to go towards community infrastructure and services, she said.

In December 2011, Curve Lake’s capital projects department noted the potential of a federal settlement as part of a $52.3-million wish-list of much-needed infrastructure funding.

The list included parkland development and a recreation centre ($13.6 million), a communal water supply and treatment system ($21.4 million), a long-term care senior’s centre ($2.7 million), daycare service ($3.6 million), an elementary school ($1.9 million), a 115-unit subdivision ($5 million), a health centre ($2 million) and road repairs and upgrades ($825,460).

galen.eagle@sunmedia.ca


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