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Indigenous leaders pushing governments to settle after landmark ruling

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Leaders from Robinson-Huron treaty are now calling on provincial and federal governments to negotiate settlements rather than risk ongoing litigation which could take at least a decade.

“We’re prepared to sit down and negotiate a settlement,” said Mike Restoule, Chair of the Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund.

Restoule says the group of twenty-one First Nations in northeastern Ontario have written to Greg Rickford, Ontaro’s Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs, and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Dr. Carolyn Bennett requesting negotiations to address treaty issues which date back to 1850. 

“It’s been a long journey since this grievance was brought forward and it would be really nice if the governments of the day would agree to sit down and discuss the settlement with us,” he said.

A spokesperson for Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the ministry is reviewing the decision, but are open to “discussions” with First Nations who were part of the legal challenge. (CBC)

Governments reviewing decision; Ottawa open to ‘discussions’

In a statement the Government of Ontario said it’s reviewing the recent decision. 

Ottawa, meanwhile acknowledges “honouring the treaty relationship […] is key to advancing lasting reconciliation.”

A spokesperson for Bennett said the department is reviewing Friday’s decision, but “Government of Canada remains open to discussions with the interested parties.”

That’s something David Nahwegahbow— one of the lawyers representing the Indigenous plaintiffs—  believes is the best path forward. 

“As Justice Hennessy outlined [in her ruling], it’s harder to achieve reconciliation and an adversarial process which is why negotiations are the preferred venue for coming to terms with this decision and implementing this decision,” Nahwegahbow said. 

Batchewana Chief Mike Sayers said sitting in negotiation is “true reconciliation.”

“Sitting at a meaningful table that’s really founded on culture and openness and understanding of each other’s way of life and knowing that we need to reconcile this,” Sayers said. “We don’t want to have the future generations having these confrontational discussions way down the road when we have an opportunity right now based on this decision to get as much mileage as we can out of it.”

David Nahwegahbow, one of the lawyers for the First Nations part of the Robinson-Huron Treaty says he hopes the federal and provincial governments will opt for negotiations rather than continued litigation. (Kari Vierimaa/CBC)

Battle over treaty rights has wider implications: lawyer

The recent victory for indigenous leaders of the Robinson-Huron Treaty territory also impacts a separate claim by two First Nations in the Robinson-Superior Treaty territory.

The Robinson-Superior claim was launched several years before the Robinson-Huron treaty claim was initiated.

The court has decided to try them both together, while compensation or declarations from each case will remain separate.

Their claim—  launched years before the Robinson-Huron Treaty claim— deals with similar language around the escalator clause which exists in both treaties.

“The decision, while it talks about the principles that underlay the treaty relationship and which ought to be the basis on which the augmentation occurs, doesn’t say what the amount is and it recommends that the parties negotiate that amount,” Nahwegahbow said.

“It does talk about duties on the Crown which will assist us in coming to a determination of that amount.”

Nahwegahbow said while the specific aspects of the decision related to the treaty language can only be applied to the Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior treaties, he adds the aspects that contributed to the decision will be significant for future cases. 

“The court in this case said when determining the Indigenous perspective it’s important to look at Indigenous laws, important to look at the long history of the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous nations which was one of the allies rather than subjects and that’s a very important component in this case,” he said.

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City staff propose ‘gold belt’ to hem in future Ottawa development

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The City of Ottawa is about to have a second marathon debate about where to allow future suburbs to be built, and this time staff propose hemming in development by creating what’s being dubbed the “gold belt.”

Eight months after city council decided to expand the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares to help house a growing population, senior city planners have released the map of which properties should be developed — and which property owners stand to see values soar if their lands are rezoned. 

They include areas north of Kanata on March Road, near the future Bowesville O-Train station in the south end, and at the southern edge of Orléans.

Scoring rural properties on such things as how close they are to transit and how costly it would be to build pipes and roads proved a challenge over the past several months, however.

“The easy land has been gobbled up in years past, in previous boundary expansions,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, who belongs to a group of councillors that meets about the new official plan. “So now we’re looking at those leftover pieces and where we can [grow], knowing council was clear we would not be touching agricultural lands.”

270 hectares short of goal

Staff struggled to come up with all 1,281 hectares council approved adding in May 2020 because they had too many issues with “sub-optimal” lands.

Instead, they recommended converting 1,011 hectares of rural land to urban for now to meet provincial requirements, and then spending the next five years studying three options for making up the 270-hectare shortfall.

That opens the door to creating an entirely new suburb. 

For instance, one option involves a huge parcel near the Amazon warehouse southeast of the city where the Algonquins of Ontario envision a community of 35,000 to 45,000 people called Tewin, which they would build with developers Taggart.

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How an Ottawa woman built a majestic snow dragon in her front yard

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OTTAWA — You may sometimes feel winter drag on, but one Ottawa woman is not letting that dim her creativity.

Dr. Mary Naciuk is family doctor and rural emergency room physician. She spent some of her free time this weekend building a majestic snow dragon in front of her south Ottawa home.

“It’s just fun to get outside and do something creative,” she told CTV News on Sunday.

There was plenty of snow to use, after Ottawa saw a record 21 cm of snow on Saturday.

She said that after her husband cleared the driveway, the pile of snow left behind lent itself to being turned into a magnificent dragon, but it takes more than just the right kind of snow to make a sculpture like this.

Naciuk tells CTV News a shovel, a butter knife, a spoon and even a blowtorch were used to give the dragon its sharp edges and defined scales.

“Anything pointy with a small detail is really hard to do with just your fingers or the butter knife and spoon I was using, so (the blowtorch) just makes a fine point,” she said.

Her son tweeted about it on Saturday and Naciuk says many people have stopped to take a look.

My mom has reached the pass me a blowtorch and shovel and watch me make a snow dragon stage of the pandemic

(I was only allowed to shovel piles of snow) pic.twitter.com/aphZotpHiC — Tom Naciuk (@NaciukThomas) January 16, 2021

“A lot of people stop on their way to the ice rink and have a look and take pictures. It’s kind of fun,” she said.

It was a welcome relief to spend some time working on something creative outdoors, Naciuk said.

“Get outside, get some exercise, clear your mind, do something that is not COVID for a few hours. It obeys all the rules. It was great,” she said, adding that the dragon took her about five hours to build.

She’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve. It’s been exhausting,” she said. “A lot of the time is learning how to deliver care to people and maintain all the precautions that we need to. That’s been hard. A lot of people are not able to work from time to time, so we fill a lot of extra shifts. It’s been a lot more hours of work than it used to be, that’s for sure.”

Naciuk returns to work on Monday after a weekend of respite but says if the conditions are right—a nice mild day, a good snowfall, and some free time—another sculpture may well appear.

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Keeping the vaccines flowing, staying at home, and a new American President: Five stories to watch this week

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OTTAWA — The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa continues, but there are questions about supply. How are police and bylaw handling the new stay-at-home order? And, a day of prayer for a beloved spiritual leader.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch this week.

Vaccine rollout continues

Residents of Ottawa will continue to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines but there are new questions about how much supply the city will have.

Last week, it was announced that Pfizer would be cutting shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada in half over the next month because of an expansion of its European factory. That means it’s unclear how many additional doses Ottawa will be receiving in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, Mayor Jim Watson told the CTV News at Six that between 5,800 and 6,000 doses were expected in the city on Tuesday, but now he’s unsure if that will be delivered.

The City’s vaccination teams have visited all 28 of the city’s long-term care homes and are expected to begin working with residents and staff of the city’s high-risk retirement homes soon.

Will COVID-19 cases keep climbing?

It has now been three weeks since the provincewide shutdown began in Ontario and it remains to be seen if Ottawa’s curve will start to bend toward lower rates.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa more than doubled in the first two weeks of January and the number of people in hospitals nearly quadrupled. However, the number of new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period has been slowly dropping in the past few days.

It is still too early to tell whether the stay-at-home order that came into effect on Jan. 14 has had any effect on transmission.

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