[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]
SARNIA, Ont. (CP) - The federal government and the areas aboriginals will sign a proposed deal worth $26.3 million Thursday to return land taken from the natives by Ottawa during the Second World War. It's hoped the deal, which requires ratification by members of the Kettle and Stoney Point bands, will end the dispute over Lake Hurons Camp Ipperwash in southwestern Ontario.
"I think it will be a positive thing for the community," said Bill Graham, mayor of nearby Bosanquet. "We've been waiting a long time for some sort of proposal to come forward. I'm happy to see them come to an arrangement that the native community can live with and that this be put to bed once and for all."
Along with Camp Ipperwash's return would comes millions of dollars in individual and community compensation and services for the native community.
Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, who arrived at Kettle and Stoney Point Wednesday, had asked for a gag order to prevent the specifics of the deal from being leaked. But a band source who attended a meeting on the proposed deal Tuesday told the Sarnia Observer said the terms were basically unchanged from an agreement reached January after two years of negotiations between Ottawa and the native groups. Details of that deal were leaked to the media.
The agreement in principle includes $12.9 million to rebuild the native community at Stoney Point, individual compensation for band members ranging from $157,000 to $405,000 and $3 million for a trust fund, the source told the newspaper.
The band member said the latest agreement is "garbage."
"This negotiating team has spent over $2 million but they have never included the actual membership, until last night. They came up with the same figure they offered in the beginning in January," the band member told the paper. "I think people were really shocked because they (council) are dictating. No one will have a say."
No one involved in striking the tentative agreement would comment.
The deal could also pave the way for Ottawa to try and negotiate the transfer of nearby Ipperwash Provincial Park, where provincial police shot and killed native protester Dudley George during a 1995 confrontation.
Stoney Point Reserve, established by the British Crown in 1827, was expropriated by the federal government under the War Measures Act in 1942. Eighteen families were relocated to Kettle Point and promised the return of their 2,211 acre homeland after the Second World War but the promise was never kept. In 1980, the federal government paid Kettle Point $2.5 million for use of Camp Ipperwash.
On May 5, 1993, a handful of natives moved onto Camp Ipperwash and shared the land with military forces for more than two years.
The military abandoned the base in July 1995.