Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim Negotiations

The Council of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and the Government of Ontario are working together to resolve an outstanding land claim relating to the islands off the eastern shore of Manitoulin Island. The goal of this process is to conclude a fair and final settlement that will bring closure to these longstanding issues and foster reconciliation.

What is the Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim?

The Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim is a land claim relating to the islands off the eastern shore of Manitoulin Island. Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory asserts that its rights and interests in and to these islands under the Treaty of 1836 have never been ceded or extinguished.

The Negotiations

The negotiating parties agree that the best way to resolve this claim is to work together to find common solutions.

Negotiations are proceeding well, but much work remains to be done before discussions on a proposed settlement can be concluded. This includes ongoing consultation with other First Nations and Indigenous communities that may be impacted by these negotiations. There will also be ongoing discussions with individuals, groups and members of the public whose interests may be affected by a settlement of the claim.

Land Selection and Consultation

It is anticipated that a settlement will include both financial compensation and a transfer of lands to Wiikwemkoong.

As illustrated in the attached map for the Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim, the land component of the proposed settlement includes:

  • Provincial Crown land within the area of the boundary claim; and
  • Alternative Provincial Crown land on the mainland, and Philip Edward Island and surrounding islands, as replacements for patented lands that cannot be returned to Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

The selections of alternative Provincial Crown land on the mainland and Philip Edward Island were influenced by a number of factors, including their proximity to Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory’s Point Grondine Reserve, proximity to infrastructure for community development, and the historical presence that Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory has maintained in the area.

The lands may be transferred to the Government of Canada to be set apart as reserve upon request of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

The transfer of these lands may impact existing Crown land uses in the area, including existing licenses or permits.

Ontario will not take away private property from third parties to settle land claims. Any acquisition of private property is on a willing-seller/willing-buyer basis. Access to private property will be protected.

When land is being considered as part of the settlement of a land claim, a provincially-led consultation process is conducted in relation to the Crown land that is proposed to be transferred. In addition, to meet its consultation obligations under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 Ontario consults with other area First Nations and Indigenous communities whose rights could be adversely impacted. If the lands are to be set apart as reserve, in accordance with the federal Additions to Reserve (ATR) Policy Canada will undertake reviews of the environmental condition of the lands and title to the lands, and will survey them. The feedback obtained from third parties and the public is considered as negotiators work to reach a consensus on the land component of a land claim settlement.

To meet the requirements of the consultation process for lands proposed to be transferred, Ontario released a Draft Environmental Study Report and related materials in 2017 for public review and comment. Ontario has also conducted numerous open houses and meetings to provide more information and obtain input on the lands proposed to be transferred and potential impacts with:

  • Indigenous communities
  • stakeholders
  • the public

Ontario released the Final Environmental Study Report for final inspection and the Notice of Completion in 2019 and filed the Statement of Completion in 2022.

Final Environmental Study Report – Executive Summary

This Environmental Study Report has been prepared in accordance with a Category C project under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Class Environmental Assessment for Resource Stewardship and Facility Development Projects. The project was also screened under the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves to fully assess potential impacts and harmonize the processes.

A Category C screening is assigned to projects that have the potential for medium to high negative environmental effects and/or public concern, and therefore require more information and analysis to identify environmental effects and more comprehensive public and agency notice. See Section 5.0 for more information on the Class EA screening.

About the Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim

The Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim is a land claim relating to the islands off the eastern shore of Manitoulin Island. Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory asserts that its rights and interests in and to these islands have never been given up or extinguished.

The Council of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario are working together to resolve this outstanding land claim.

Ontario is planning to transfer administration and control of Crown lands for settlement of the Wiikwemkoong Islands Boundary Claim. The Proposed Settlement Lands are located in:

  • the District of Killarney
  • the District of Sudbury
  • unorganized areas.

The Class EA process

The Class EA process for the proposed land disposition included:

  • an assessment of the existing environment
  • identification of potential effects
  • identification of mitigation and protection measures, where appropriate
  • consultation with municipal, provincial and federal government officials, government agencies, First Nations and Métis communities, potentially affected and interested persons, and interest groups

The Class EA focuses only on potential impacts arising from the transfer of Crown land to Canada to be set apart as reserve for Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. Alternatively, if this is not possible, the lands will be conveyed to a designate of Wiikwemkoong in fee simple, to be held in trust for the benefit of Wiikwemkoong.

Potential uses to be made of the lands and any planning or development decisions are not assessed as part of the undertaking to transfer the lands, as the future use of the property is not assured at the time of transfer.

The draft report

Notification regarding the proposed land disposition and Class EA process took place through news releases, letters, public meetings, open houses and personal contact. The opportunity to comment on the draft Environmental Study Report was publicly advertised and copies of the report were available for viewing:

  • at the Municipality of Killarney
  • at the Sudbury District Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office
  • on the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry

Final Environmental Study Report

Notice of completion

More information about the consultation process can be obtained by contacting Ontario’s negotiator.

Toward a Settlement Agreement

Following consultations regarding the land component of the proposed settlement, and discussions about financial compensation, negotiators will conclude their talks on a settlement proposal. The legal text of a proposed settlement agreement will be drafted by lawyers representing Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Ontario and Canada.

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory members will then have the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to the proposed settlement in a community ratification vote held according to its custom. Following the ratification by the members of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Ontario and Canada will approve the settlement agreement. The settlement is not final until the settlement agreement has been signed by all of the parties.

The Benefits of Negotiated Settlements

The timely resolution of this claim through negotiation is in everyone’s best interest. Negotiations lead to “win-win” situations that balance the rights and interests of all concerned.

The goal of negotiated settlements is to provide First Nations with fair compensation to right past wrongs and honour outstanding obligations. They also bring economic benefits and certainty to First Nations and neighbouring communities, creating economic opportunities and potential new business partnerships in the region.

Contact us

Ontario’s Negotiator
Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

Suite 920, 160 Bloor St East
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2E6


Media contacts for Ontario can be reached at 416-314-9455 and Alanna Trudeau for Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory at 705-859-3122 ext. 272 .

Comments and personal information concerning the claim and proposed disposition of Crown land are collected by the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) to assist with decision making and to allow for follow-up with individuals as required. This activity occurs under IAO's mandate to resolve land claims and is in compliance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act. IAO will provide the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry with copies of comments received. Comments not constituting personal information as defined by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, will be shared with others as appropriate, and may be included in documentation available for public review. Personal information will only be used/ disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. If you have questions regarding the collection, use or disclosure of your personal information please contact IAO (contact information above).