THE TORONTO – A huge claim to aborigines for some of the most picturesque geographies in Ontario caused a significant trial on Thursday with a large contingent of lawyers politely starting a delicate dance on controversial issues on the ground, contract rights and money.
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation insists on having state land in the entire Bruce peninsula and only with a legally unique request for an Aboriginal name over the "water area" around it – from the international border with the United States in Lake Huron to the Georgian Bay – along with compensation could reach 90 billion dollars.
More than 20 attorneys pulled the suitcases and boxes filled with paper into the container; the laptops were connected to projection screens, and huge maps were unfolded when dozens of observers gathered at a magnificent court hearing in downtown Toronto.
Prior to the arrival of Judge Wendy Matheson, two Aborigines sneaked through the vanity to the front of the yard, carrying a two-meter-long wood carved with seven eagle feathers and topped with a bald eagle, and lifted it to the left. where the judge will sit.
The fact that the hearing started in just one minute for the plans at the start of 10 am was remarkable, but not as breathtaking as everyone was here to settle down.
The Bruce Peninsula is a rugged earth that extends deep into Lake Guron and forms the western shore of Georgian Bay, with entertainment cities such as Tobermore, Virginia and Saubele Beach. Land demand includes two national parks and rivers and lakes.
The water claims cover an even larger area, a large part of the adjacent water of the peninsula, which extends from near Gödrich to the west, up and around the peninsula, and it is falling south through the Gulf of Georgia, making the land east of Collingwood.
The case has three main demands.
The first, which is unique to the Aboriginal claims in Canada, is an aboriginal name over this "water area" – instead of simply land or earth masses under water, as traditionally claimed.
The second is that the crown has breached its confidence in trust to protect and preserve the territory of the Saugeen Ojibway nation, called in the court of SON, consisting of four reserves and a population of 1,900. As a fix, SON seeks compensation amounting to $ 80 billion in restitution and 10 billion in punitive damages.
Finally, the SIN seeks a declaration that their harvest rights within their traditional territory are not extinguished by the Treaty 72, the Government's agreement with the SIN signed in 1854, which transmits the Bruce peninsula except for a few small plots land as reserves. Extraction rights include fishing and hunting.
What is not demanded by SON is a court hearing, which is privately owned in the area or, in the language of the claim, land "in the hands of bona fide buyers."
Ontario remains committed to reconciliation
Neither does Bill Townsend, the SNE's leading lawyer in his opening message to the court, want to cancel the treaty 72 or rewrite it, but rather the court to accept the SIN version of what the terms of the contract are at the moment.
"Fishing is essential to their way of life and economic activity. Water is very important to them. Some say it's even more important than the land, "said Townshed.
To give up their rights to land and water, he said, an elder in the community told him that it would be like death.
The court understood an earlier contract signed by the Crown with the SIN in 1836, which promised to build houses "to give you the opportunity to become civilized," and promised that the Crown called "your Great Father," " will protect you forever from the invasion of the white. "
This promise, said Kati Girgis, another lawyer of the SIN, was not preserved.
"This statement is not about judging the crown for today's standards or looking back," Girgis told the court. "It's about looking at the evidence of what they said and what they did at that time."
The case is opposed to federal and provincial governments, as well as to several municipal governments affected by cross-fire.
The federal government's defense was amended as the process began, due to a new federal directive on civil disputes involving indigenous peoples – the last substantial act of Jodie Wilson-Reible, before being moved from his role as Justice Minister and Advocate-General Michael Begs , leading lawyer of Canada's Prosecutor General, confirmed by the National Mail.
Some earlier objections were withdrawn, he said.
However, many remain in the dispute.
He told the court that the government stressed the importance of the historical context.
"Evidence will show that the crown has acted with honor and integrity, good faith and justice, tailored to the context of time, and this is a difficult set of circumstances faced by the parties. There were no bad guys, "he said.
David Feliciano, Ontario's Chief Prosecutor's Adviser, also addressed the delicate question of the challenge of the traditional Aboriginal connoisseurs and the oral traditions of the people of the First Peoples.
"Our system requires evidence to be tested, so we'll check the witnesses," Felicity told the court. "Our cross-examination should not be taken as a sign that we do not respect the position of the plaintiffs or the evidence of their witnesses.
"Ontario remains committed to the reconciliation and positive working relationships we have developed with communities."
He also emphasizes the historical context.
"The behavior of Crown's representative may not have been perfect, but he has not reached the level of spot on Crown honor," he said.
The process that Mattison said will continue for "many months" will look at history and prehistory, the Aboriginal peoples' stories of history and the first human activity on earth through contact with European explorers and settlers, and sometimes their harmonious, often twisted, connection of modern disputes with the government.
Experts to be heard include experts in military history, ethnology, geology, archeology, anthropology, linguistics and law.
The hearing will be resumed on Monday in Neiajashinigming, a reserve of Chavez of Navas, liberated from the first nation on the eastern side of the peninsula.