The Gleaner

Tsikaristisere/Dundee land claim referendum officially approved

PHOTO Wikimedia Commons


According to a press release from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, the Akwesasne Court has validated the results of the October-December 2018 community referendum on the Tsikaristisere/Dundee Land Claim Settlement Agreement.
In 2015, Canada provided the Mohawks of Akwesasne with a Land Claim Settlement Offer with an ability to regain 18,282 acres following Canada’s Additions to Reserve Process, as well as a monetary offer of $239,808,436. This offer was an attempt to resolve claims in the historically leased lands known as Tsikaristisere, also known as Dundee. In 2018, the final terms of the agreement were negotiated and brought forth to the community for a special referendum vote that included both online and ballot voting, which started on October 1, 2018, and concluded on December 8, 2018.
The referendum questions centered on whether community members accepted the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement, and whether they authorized the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to give effect to the agreement. The total number of valid ‘yes’ votes was 1,749, while the valid ‘no’ votes totaled 448.
Five appeals were filed to the Akwesasne Court from community members. The Akwesasne Court rendered a decision on four appeal submissions, stating that they did not meet the threshold for a full hearing under Section 20.3 of the Tsikaristisere/Dundee Claim Settlement Agreement Special Referendum Regulations.
The fifth appeal was heard by the Akwesasne Court Justices on February 7, 2019, and a decision was rendered regarding all five appeals on January 7, 2020, confirming that the referendum “was conducted in good faith,” and declared the referendum results valid.
The terms of the claim require the settlement funds to be used only for specific, financially sound and secure purposes, as defined in the agreement.
The Mohawk Council is currently consulting with financial managers in preparation for receiving the settlement, and a new series of educational meetings and informational campaigns will be conducted to gather the community’s feedback on the financial aspects of the claim. Decisions as to the use of the compensation amount will not be made without community input and consultation.
The Tsikaristisere/Dundee Specific Land Claim was initially filed in Federal Court in 1981; negotiations with the Crown based upon mutually agreeable terms began in 2005.

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