Indigenous communities are in court seeking billions of dollars in compensation after almost 150 years of receiving small annual payments in return for ceding an area the size of France. But the Ontario government is arguing they are owed nothing, or at most $34-million.
The wide divergence in claims was on display this week in an unprecedented court hearing in Sudbury, Ont., whose purpose is to determine how much the Crown owes for breaking a treaty promise to share wealth produced by the natural resources of a vast area in Northern Ontario.
A lawyer for several Anishinaabe communities collectively made up of about 15,000 people told Ontario Superior Court Justice Patricia Hennessy on Monday that they are owed at least $8-billion, and perhaps as much as $100-billion.
In 1850, Anishinaabe leaders signed two treaties with the Crown that gave over control of resource-rich lands stretching from the north shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron to Hudson Bay, which today includes the communities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and North Bay.
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