Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Place for Fairness

No Place for Fairness: Indigenous Land Rights and Policy in the Bear Island Case and Beyond

David T. McNab
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    No Place for Fairness
    Book Description:

    Aboriginal land policy in Canada began as an Aboriginal initiative. In No Place for Fairness, David McNab - a long time advisor on land and treaty rights for both government and First Nations groups - looks at the Bear Island Indigenous rights case, initiated by the Teme-Augama Anishinabe, to explore why governments fail to deal effectively with Aboriginal land claims. The book, divided into two sections, includes a survey of the historical background of the Bear Island claim followed by a more personal series of reflections about what happened as the claim encountered decades of policy hurdles, court cases, public protests, and above all resistance by the Temagami First Nation. McNab provides details of how ministers and their senior officials resisted real efforts to resolve problems as well as examples of field staff resisting government attempts at resolution. He also shows that government entities such as the Indian Commission of Ontario and the Native Affairs Directorate were largely used as "mailboxes" where successive federal and provincial governments sent things they wanted to bury.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7659-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    A word of caution is in order at the outset about the scope of this study.Thomas King has written in his Massey Lectures that the “truth about stories” is “that’s all we really are.”¹ These are my stories. The author is biased. He is Metis. And “we are still here.”² Metis, then and now, are mediators, facilitators, interpreters on these indigenous issues.³ They, as I have written elsewhere,⁴ are also negotiators on their own behalf. As people in between, they have also been forgotten until recently. Since the author worked for the Ontario provincial government from 1979 to 1991 (and...

  5. 1 Meeting Places and Negotiations, 1763–1850s
    (pp. 10-19)

    Almost three decades ago, I was drawn to Walpole Island –a very powerful and sacred place located in Lake St Clair. It is the Third Stopping Place in Midewewin history.¹ The Midewewin is the medicine society of the Anishnabai (“the Original People”). A Midewewin Elder, Edward Benton-Banai, has described how this island was created according to the legends of the Anishnabai:

    Only a few of the people, mostly elders, were able to keep the Sacred Fire alive. But the prophecies said that “a boy would be born to show the Anishnabek back to the sacred ways.” It was prophesied that...

  6. 2 First Nations and the British Imperial “Civilization” Policy in the Early Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 20-38)

    Between 1815 and 1850 , more than one million British and US emigrants arrived in Upper Canada. Sponsored by the British imperial government, this wave of immigration was intended to provide settlers for the colony, which had been safeguarded from the Americans by the First Nations in the War of 1812 . During that conflict, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Longwoods (in Upper Canada) on 5 October 1813 .¹ After the war, the warriors of the First Nations, according to their oral traditions, received medals from the Crown for their service, while the incoming settlers...

  7. 3 Stories of Teme-Augama Anishnabai Land Rights and the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850 and Its Aftermath
    (pp. 39-54)

    The relationship between the TAA – which includes members of the Temagami First Nation, Metis, as well as individuals who are regarded by the federal government as “non-status Indians” but who are affiliated with the Temagami First Nation – and the Ontario Government has been characterized by the government’s stubborn refusal to recognize the TAA and their ancestral homeland, N’Daki Menan. For more than 159 years, Ontario has refused to acknowledge the TAA’S title and rights to their territory.In 1970 , after more than forty years of fruitless negotiations, the government declared Bear Island, less than one square mile in size, as...

  8. 4 “Don’t fix it”: Reflections on Ontario Aboriginal Policy and Processes, 1976–1984
    (pp. 55-74)

    Ontario’s cabinet decision in 1976 to litigate the Teme-Augama Anishnabai’s aboriginal title claim to four thousand square miles in and around Lake Temagami put Ontario into the “land claims” business for the very first time. To accomplish its objective, the Ontario Government established the Office of Indian Land Claims on 1 March 1976 as part of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, headquartered, in the “main office,” the Whitney Block at Queen’s Park next to the Ontario legislature. This action was clearly ambiguous if the purpose was to actually resolve and to reach settlement agreements on aboriginal land and treaty...

  9. 5 The Bear Island Trial, the Steele Judgement, and the First Settlement Offer, 1982–1986
    (pp. 75-89)

    The Bear Island trial began in spring 1982 and concluded on 15 March 1984 . It was then to be the longest court case in the history of Ontario.The following narrative and interpretation of the events are based on my personal experience in the provincial government from 1982 to 1986 , as well drawing on my private diaries, journals, and date books.¹ The trial began before aboriginal land and treaty rights became law under Canada’s Constitution in 1982 . Before the trial got underway, some aboriginal people had advised the TAA that they should not proceed with the litigation because...

  10. 6 Bear Island and Land Rights Under a Liberal Majority, 1986–1988
    (pp. 90-110)

    A historian of the nineteenth-century federal Department of Indian Affairs, Douglas Leighton, has commented that the department had always been a backwater compared with other government departments. While his statements refer to the department in the nineteenth century, they continue to be applicable well into the twenty-first century. Leighton argues that, in terms of government priorities, funding and staffing at the Indian Department always got short shrift,¹ at least until recently. In Ontario’s history, until July 2007 , there has been no separate department of native

    affairs.² The first small Ontario branch to focus its activities solely on aboriginal people,...

  11. 7 The Temagami Blockade of 1988
    (pp. 111-133)

    The Temagami blockade of 1988 is primarily remembered in Southern Ontario as being about environmental issues in which non-aboriginal environmentalists tried to prevent the construction of a logging road in the Lake Temagami area. The environmentalists were arrested and thrown into jail by the Liberal Government of David Peterson. While there is some truth in this overly simplistic view of it as a non-aboriginal issue, the actual events were much more complicated and interwoven. For one thing, there was more than one blockade; there were three in 1988–89 . And the non-aboriginal environmentalists only joined the blockades relatively late,...

  12. 8 The 1989 Blockades and the 1990 Treaty of Co-Existence
    (pp. 134-151)

    The second year of the Temagami blockades – 1989 – was a pivotal one for the relationship between the TAA and the provincial government. Queen’s Park remained a captive of the TAA and no plan had been made should the TAA resist by blockading the Red Squirrel Road extension yet again. While no agreement was reached, and the second TAA blockade continued in autumn 1989 , a framework for peace was developed by spring 1990 with the Treaty of Co-Existence. In addition, a separate but short-lived blockade by non-aboriginal environmentalists would be set up in autumn. This latter blockade illustrated how successful...

  13. 9 Oka and the Blockades in Northern Ontario, Summer 1990
    (pp. 152-167)

    After the Teme-Augama Anishnabai land rights issues had been addressed in the April 1990 Treaty of Co-existence, nothing further was likely to occur until the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its judgement.Nevertheless, the TAA experience and the precedent that had been set had a considerable impact on other issues throughout 1989 and 1990 , and in the years following. As early as autumn 1989 , the leadership of the First Nations predicted that their young people as well as their elders were becoming increasingly angry and militant about the lack of progress on aboriginal issues at both the national...

  14. 10 Reflections since the 1990s
    (pp. 168-187)

    Elected in September 1990, Premier Bob Rae of the NDP had little affinity for aboriginal issues, then and thereafter. Although he joined the Temagami blockades in 1989, he had lent his support only as they were coming to an end. On assuming power, he immediately showed that aboriginal issues were not to be a priority, except as an aspect of diffuse and abstract national diplomacy wholly within constitutional discussions. He took control himself. He put all of his aboriginal eggs into one constitutional basket. The focus was to be on the inherent right of aboriginal self-government that would be part...

  15. Retrospect: Towards a Place for Fairness
    (pp. 188-192)

    During the Temagami blockades, I recall being in the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park for a Cabinet meeting. As the premier and Cabinet attempted, with frustration and a great deal of futility, to address the Temagami land rights issues, I looked up on the wall of the room. There, staring at me was a large painting of the signing of the Toronto Purchase, by Toronto artist C.W. Jeffreys (1868–1959). The non-aboriginal visitors involved in this treaty could not understand the aboriginal peoples they were negotiating with, let alone their issues. Jeffreys’s painting reflects how aboriginal people and their culture...

  16. Acronyms
    (pp. 193-194)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 195-220)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-232)
  19. Index
    (pp. 233-238)