COCHRANE – By making a claim to Aboriginal rights and title over a section of land in Ontario, the Quebec-based Grand Council of the Crees may ultimately be calling the validity of Treaty No. 9 into question.
The Taykwa Tagamou First Nation has become the latest Ontario Aboriginal group to question publicly the Cree Council’s land claim, and the third to assert that their ancestors have used the 48,000-square-kilometre section of land in question since time immemorial.
The First Nation located just west of Cochrane is now demanding an apology from the Cree Council’s Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come for “essentially ignoring” them in the lead-up to filing their claim for rights and title in Ontario Superior Court early this month.
“We will do what we need to to protect our rights,” said Aaron Detlor, the lawyer representing Taykwa Tagamou. “The first step is going to be to understand what the Cree of Quebec are actually seeking with this lawsuit. What they are seeking is something called ‘shared Aboriginal title.’ And at this point, we’re not sure what they mean by that.”
Besides the Cree Council, which commissioned an anthropological study to back up its claim of using the land for centuries, the land and the rights to it are also being claimed as belonging to the Moose Cree First Nation exclusively. When asked if this means Taykwa Tagamou will find itself in conflict with the Moose Cree as well, Detlor said not necessarily.
“The Moose Cree’s land doesn’t necessarily touch upon Taykwa Tagamou land,” said Detlor. “Obviously, there is an issue between the Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou as to the extent of the land that belongs to First Nations. But we have maintained a consistent position when it comes to territorial land for some time.”
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