Temagami First Nation

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Flag of the Temagami First Nation.

The community of Temagami First Nation is located on Bear Island in the heart of Lake Temagami. The island is the second largest in Lake Temagami after Temagami Island.'

The Teme-Augama Anishnabai ("Deep Water by the Shore People") are part of the (Anishinaabe) community and Bear Island represents only a small portion of the Anishinaabe's Nindakiiminan ("our land"; locally syncoped as Ndakiimnan or "n'daki menan"), which includes over ten thousand square kilometers of land in the area. Some citizens are status Indian (TFN) within the framework of the Indian Act. The majority are not accorded status under the Indian Act but are still recognized as full community members by the Teme-Augama Anishnabai.

Temagami First Nation people have been thriving in the area for over 9,000 years. The reserve is situated on a one square mile Island in the pristine Temagami Wilderness and Bear Island is home to over 200 permanent residents out of a total of over 500 registered members. Community Days, held in late summer each year, bring back a large part of the full membership as it is an opportunity to renew friendships and family ties and participate in annual Band Council elections.

The Band Council of Temagami First Nation is currently composed of Chief Roxanne Ayotte, 2nd Chief Joe Katt, and Councillors Tom Mathias, Jamie Saville, Annette Polson, Steve Laronde and Steve Missabie.

The Temagami Indigenous people built homes on Bear Island in the 1880’s in addition to homes on their own family lands. In 1943, Bear Island was purchased by the Department of Indian Affairs from the Province of Ontario, for the sum of $3,000.00, in order to be designated as a permanent reserve.

The Temagami First Nation refused to accept Bear Island as a reserve until they were denied housing subsidy funds in 1968 until it was agreed, under duress, that Bear Island would become an official Reserve in accordance with the Indian Act of Canada.

Official reserve status was granted in 1971 and the establishment of the Band Office occurred shortly after in the former Department of Lands and Forests building which had been constructed in approximately 1903.

Maple Mountain in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park is a sacred site of the Temagami First Nation. The Teme-Augama Anishnabai call the mountain Chee-bay-jing, meaning "the place where the spirits go". It is considered the most sacred and powerful place within their realm.

In 1973, The Temagami Indian Band registered a land caution against the Crown, in Ontario, to stop development on the traditional territory of 10,000 square kilometers, which had been appropriated as Crown land. The Attorney-General of Ontario pursued legal action against the Band for this caution. While the TAA lost this court case in 1984, the Band proceeded with an Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada where it was adjudicated that the Crown had breached its fiduciary obligations to the Temagami Indians and adhered the Band to the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty.

In 1988, the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, Vince Kerrio, approved the expansion of the Red Squirrel logging road, directly through disputed territory. This prompted a series of roadblocks by the TAA in 1988-1989. Environmentalists and allies provided strong and continued public support.

In 1991, the TAA and the Ontario government created the Wendaban Stewardship Authority to manage four townships near the logging road. The Authority completed their Land Use Plan but had no funding or workers to implement it.

A Draft Settlement Agreement has been developed but a decision to accept the agreement by the community is yet to be determined.


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