SPECIFIC CLAIMS FILED WITH THE MINISTER OF CROWN-INDIGENOUS RELATIONS – NORTHERN AFFAIRS AND INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA

1. Cession and sale of the Crespieul reserve (Odanak / Wôlinak)
With this specific claim, we have retraced the history of the Crespieul reserve for the period between 1851 (year of the federal Crown’s land distribution) and 1894 (year the Crespieul reserve was created). We have also reviewed the events leading to its surrender to the Crown in 1910 and its auction to a logging operation in 1911. We have finally demonstrated that the Abenaki people were seriously prejudiced in the allocation of the Crespieul reserve. This is because the federal government, by establishing this reserve in the La Tuque region, went against the best interests and needs of the Abenaki people. This land was never given the necessary protection and was looted of its wood several times. In addition, the demands of the Abenaki people with respect to the sale conditions of the reserve were not respected, thus confirming the federal government’s failure, or even their voluntarily disregard, to respect the interests and will of the Abenaki people of Saint-François (Odanak) and Bécancour (Wôlinak).

  • Location: Chabanel township, west of Crespieul township and southwest of Lac Saint-Jean and Roberval
  • Land area: 33.8 square kilometres
  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 1997
  • Settlement agreement: 2007

2. The seigneurie of Bécancour: original limits (Wôlinak)
With this specific claim, we have retraced the history of the Bécancour mission, from 1707 (year the mission was created) to 1940 (year seigniorial rents were purchased). We have paid particular attention to the invasion of the mission’s territory. Here we are referring to the illegal granting of censives by the lords of Bécancour in the Lac Saint-Paul concession; the Rang du Petit Chenail d’En Haut; the concession of the Village Sauvage; the Hart Street concession and the Saint-Simon, Saint-Henri Côté Nord-Ouest and Saint-Henri Côté Sud-Est rangs. We have also examined the actions of the Abenaki people of Wôlinak to defend what belonged to them; many petitions were filed with the government authorities in 1803, 1843, 1852, 1857, 1858, 1862 and 1867. Finally, we have filed a complaint with the Federal Crown for failing to fulfill its fiduciary role over the Abenaki people of Wôlinak, leaving their Bécancour mission almost entirely amputated of its original land area.

  • Location: along the Bécancour River, 20 kilometres southeast of Trois-Rivières
  • Original land area: 61.76 square kilometres 
  • Current land area: 0.80 square kilometres
  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 1998
  • File submitted to the Specific Claims Tribunal: 2012 (ongoing proceedings/http://www.sct-trp.ca/hom/index_e.htm)

3. Odanak and the seigneurial regime (1662-1863) (Odanak)
This specific claim refers to the Odanak reserve from its beginnings, in 1700, to the end of the seigneurial regime in 1854. The Saint-François mission, name under which the Odanak reserve was once known, was enclosed in the Saint-François and Pierreville seigneuries. It was also bordered by the La Lussaudière, Yamaska and Deguire seigneuries. The Abenakis and Sokokis, as Mission Indians were then called, experienced many hardships with most of these lords. We therefore retraced the beginnings of the neighbouring seigneuries and the creation of the Saint-François mission. We also cover the period when the Abenakis and Sokokis, acting as true lords, granted several censives to settlers. Finally, we demonstrate that the original territory of the Saint-François mission narrowed rapidly to cover, in the mid-nineteenth century, little more than the extent of the Abenakis and Sokokis village. Yet, they never intended to abandon the Mission lands.

  • Location: along the Saint-François River, 32 kilometres east of Sorel and adjacent to the municipality of Pierreville
  • Original land area: 73.65 square kilometres
  • Current land area: 5.6 square kilometres
  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 2003
  • File submitted to the Specific Claims Tribunal: 2012 (ongoing proceedings/http://www.sct-trp.ca/hom/index_e.htm)

4. Cession of 38 lots in the Domaine des Abenakis of Saint-François (1858-1884) (Odanak)
In this specific claim, we retrace the history of the cession of 38 lots in the Domaine des Abénakis of Saint-François. The Domaine was enclosed within the mission limits. It was bordered in front by the Saint-François River, the islands being part of it. The Domaine bordered to the north the Saint-François seigneurie. On all other sides, it was delimited by the lands granted to colonists by the Abenakis. It covered a land area of approximately 9.37 square kilometres. The Domaine included the Abenakis village. Located on the east bank of the Saint-François River between the Chenal Tardif and the marshes, the village had a land area of about 6 square kilometres, so a little more than the land area of the current Odanak reserve. In truth, relations between the Abenakis and Sokokis and the settlers on the 38 lots of their Domaine proved difficult, even confrontational. We are therefore revisiting the lawsuit against one of them, Benjamin Jannel, in 1859. We are also reporting the events surrounding the first cession of the 38 lots of the Domaine to the federal Crown in 1868; the three attempts to settle with the occupants of the lots between 1869 and 1878, and the new cession of the same 38 lots of the Domaine to the Crown in 1880. We claim to this effect that the cession of the 38 lots was not legal; and failed to respect the legislation in force at the time.

  • Land area: 0.76 square kilometres
  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 2005
  • File submitted to the Specific Claims Tribunal: 2012 (ongoing proceedings / http://www.sct-trp.ca/hom/index_e.htm)

5. Cession of a right of passage to the Quebec & Montreal Southern Railway Company (1906-1946) (Wôlinak)
With this particular claim, we retrace the facts relating to the cession of a railway right-of-way to the Quebec & Montreal Southern Railway Company in the Wôlinak reserve between 1907 and 1929. It should be noted that the railway was approximately 0.09 kilometres wide, commencing on the banks of the Bécancour River and extending to the southern limit of lot 582 for a length of approximately 0.58 kilometres. This also includes the return of the right of passage to the federal Crown from 1943 to 1946 and the surrender of lands to the Abenakis of Wôlinak in 1972. Finally, we assert that the federal Crown breached its fiduciary and legal obligations because, from 1907 to 1913, it never attempted to verify the accuracy of the expropriated areas and the compensation paid. This does not account for the fact that 26 years went by before confirming by decree, on January 18, 1972, the return of the right of passage in the Wôlinak reserve, thus depriving the Abenaki people of their lands and on which no indigenous people could have settled.

  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 2008
  • File rejected for negotiations

6. Cession of a right of passage on the Odanak reserve (1882-2007) (Odanak)
With this specific claim, we are targeting the lands expropriated in 1902 and 1907 in order to form a railway right-of-way in the Odanak reserve. Our analysis focused more on the period from 1887 (year when expropriation of reserve lands was discussed for the first time) until 1973 (year in which the Canadian National Railway Company abandoned the railway right-of-way). We also identify the encroachments and damages caused by the Great Eastern Railway Company on the Odanak reserve (1882-1891). In addition, there was an illegal transaction between the South Shore Railway Company and a Mr. Joseph Rascony (a non-aboriginal) for the right of passage over a reserve lot and for the construction of a railway bridge for the company on a portion of the reserve (1896-1902). Finally, we denounce the work of diverting the Abenaki public road on land not granted to the company.

  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 2010
  • File rejected for negotiations

7. Cession and sale of the Coleraine reserve (1847-1933) (Wôlinak)
With this specific claim, we reconstruct the history of the Coleraine reserve, based on the provisions contained in the 1851 Act and the 1853 Federal Decree, which set aside 2,000 acres of land in the Coleraine Township for the Abenaki people from Wôlinak. This also includes the cession of the reserve to the federal Crown in 1882, highlighting the granting of stumpage licenses and the sale of reserve lots. In addition, the federal Crown had been inexplicably lax in taking no action to stop the theft of wood on the reserve. The Crown also did not ask for an estimate of the quantities of stolen wood, let alone an investigation to identify the offenders. Not to mention that it neglected, by selling the reserve wood, to make an assessment of its forest potential. We finally identified the amounts unpaid by the forest companies for the annual rent and the renewal of stumpage licenses.

  • Location: south shore of the St. Lawrence River, specifically between the municipalities of Disraeli and Black Lake
  • Land area: 8.09 square kilometres
  • File submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs: 2012
  • Settlement agreement: 2017

8. Abenaki First Nations of Odanak and Wôlinak: The Sillery and Saint-François-de-Sales Missions (1632-1855) (Odanak) / (Wôlinak)
With this specific claim, we discuss the history of Sillery and Saint-François-de-Sales missions. The first was enclosed in the Sillery seigneurie and the second in the Lauzon seigneurie. We have paid particular attention to the Abenaki people present at the Sillery mission hospital in 1642, the marriage of their chief to a Montagnais in 1643 and the baptisms of several of these individuals between 1646 and 1651. It also includes the exodus of several hundred Abenakis from New England and Acadia to the Sillery mission between 1676 and 1689, as well as their displacement to the mouth of the Chaudière River, more precisely to the Saint- François-de-Sales mission between 1683 and 1700. Finally, we claim that the Abenakis of Odanak and Wôlinak occupied, like the Algonquins, the Montagnais and the Hurons, the Sillery mission and that they still have today property rights on the Saint-François-de-Sales mission lands.

  • Land area (Sillery seigneurie (mission)): 96.43 square kilometres
  • Land area (Saint-François-de-Sales mission): approximately 267.66 square kilometres
  • Case pending a legal arguments

9. Abenaki First Nation of Odanak and Durham Township (1791-1937) (Odanak)
With this specific claim, we are focussing on the lands surrendered in the Durham Township by the federal Crown, through the Letters Patent of 1805, to 17 Abenaki families of Saint-François (Odanak). It should be noted that the territory was not considered a reserve under the Indian Act. It is also important to note the concessions of township lots by the Abenakis and their heirs to settlers newly arrived in the region (1820-1854). The laws of 1854, 1855, 1856 and 1860 passed by the federal government at the time, which legalized the concessions and guaranteed the payment of land royalties to the Abenakis and their heirs, are also part of our analysis. To this end, we claim that these royalties due to the Abenakis, for the great majority, have not always been paid into the band’s fund, thus depriving them of a very important monetary income.

  • Location: near the current village of L’Avenir, 37 kilometres from Drummondville
  • Original land area: 36.05 square kilometres
  • Case pending a legal arguments

 

Yvon Poirier
Land Claims Coordinator

SPECIFIC CLAIMS TRIBUNAL

Odanak :
Claim : SCT-2001-11
Claim : SCT-2003-11

Wôlinak :
Claim : SCT-2002-11

For more information, consult the web site of the Specific Claims Tribunal of Canada.