Saugeen First Nation, Ontario: Saugeen First Nation has served a summary judgment motion as part of a longstanding lawsuit to confirm Saugeen ownership of Sauble Beach. Both Saugeen First Nation and its treaty partner, the Government of Canada, recognize that Sauble Beach is part of Saugeen Indian Reserve #29, consistent with the terms of a treaty signed in 1854.
“This is a significant step towards righting a wrong that is older than Canada,” said Saugeen Chief Lester Anoquot. “We are disappointed that it has come to this, but after almost 30 years of litigation, we are looking forward to finally having our day in court.”
“Out of all our territory, this was the area our ancestors chose to reserve for their families— for us—when the Crown wanted our land for settlers,” said Chief Anoquot. “The 1854 treaty makes clear that this is, and always has been, Saugeen land. But we have so-called ‘landowners’ who were not around in 1854 and are not interested in our treaty who continue to make baseless claims about owning part of our beach. The mayor in South Bruce Peninsula is not interested in being neighbourly and is more concerned with politics than evidence. So we welcome the opportunity to confront the Town and the ‘landowners’ with the evidence and put the facts before a judge, which is what we have done today.”
The federal government first began litigation on Saugeen First Nation’s behalf in 1990 to address false claims of ownership to parts of the reserve by settlers at the northern end of the Saugeen reserve. Saugeen First Nation filed its own claim in 1995. Both lawsuits state that Sauble Beach is and always has been part of the Saugeen reserve.
“It is unfortunate in this day and age that some people still refuse to respect our treaty,” said Chief Anoquot. “It is even more disappointing when they refuse to work with us as neighbours. We have been sharing our land for centuries and we should all be interested in making our communities better, more prosperous, and more inviting. Since the Town has not been willing to work with us outside of court, we are bringing this motion to end the false claims to our beach. We never surrendered this land, and the Crown, our treaty partner, agrees. We are seeking recognition of what belongs to us and has, in fact, always been ours.” Traditional Saugeen territory spans over two-million acres and includes the entire Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula. The lands subject to litigation include a strip of beach west of Lakeview Blvd that extends between 1st St S and 6th St N.