The Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) will begin a court battle today on two longstanding claims it's making to ownership of lands, including underwater territory.
According to a statement concerning the claims provided by SON, the first claim being made concerns land underwater in the area surrounding their traditional territory. This territory includes the Bruce Peninsula as well as 1.5-million acres south from Goderich to Collingwood. This includes the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron that surround these areas.
SON is asking the court to recognize its 'Aboriginal title' to those waters.
Chief Lester Anoquot of Saugeen First Nation says in a statement: "this trial is not only a watershed moment for SON seeking recognition of our rights, but also for Indigenous peoples and Aboriginal rights across Canada, this is about legally recognizing how integral our waters are to us as Anishinaabe people, and how the relationship we have with and the responsibilities we have to our lands and our waters has survived to present day."
SON says this claim would be the first by a First Nations group to obtain title to lakes.
The second claim is to receive compensation for a broken promise made by the British Crown in 1836.
SON's position is the Crown promised to protect the Bruce Peninsula from settlers for SON in exchange for 1.5 million acres of rich farmland around Owen Sound.
SON claims in 1854 the Crown came back and stated they couldn't keep settlers out any longer and urged the SON to surrender the Peninsula.
"The Crown could have protected the Peninsula and misled SON into believing they couldn't in order to push SON to agree to the treaty," a statement from SON reads.
SON is claiming a breach of the Crown's duty, and lands on the Bruce Peninsula still owned directly by Ontario or Canada should be returned.
Compensation will also be sought by SON, a statement explains, but at a later stage of the court proceedings.