Monday, December 18, 2006

Brother's ashes in cottage

Hope Bay tenants are anxious about getting their possessions out of their cottages that had been built on land leased from the federal government and now deemed to be native land.

Stephen Gibbs is concerned about retrieving his brother's ashes from the fireplace mantel.

Cottagers will be escorted in and out by natives with videocameras, and will have to leave the structures and fixtures behind.


Swift said...

If you build a cottage on leased land you own the cottage, unless it's Indian land. Who was it that said there wasn't a double standard?

Double standard said...

so let's charge the natives for the use of white man's technology . . the boats, motors, guns & those videocameras.

They didn't sign licensing agreements so now they have to pay the rightful owners.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

What I can't understand is why anyone would build a cottage on leased land.

Anonymous said...

For decades there was never a problem with the land leases...all along the Bruce the bands were happy to sign the long term lease and rent the lakeshore properties to cottagers.
Cottagers got a lease (some were 100 year terms) and used to build very modest little shacks to retreat to in the summer. No Problem!
Then cottagers started upgrading the little cabins and some even built full scale homes..some quite in their assumption that the leases would be respected and continued.

As land values have skyrocketed the natives are getting bigger dollar signs in their eyes.

Care to bet that the cottages along the Bruce will be re-sold or rented out by the new landlords??
What do you think the video cam escorts are all about? Certainly not the benefit of the folks being booted. The natives are being allowed to expropriate the homeowners property!

Next up A Big Shiny New Casino and lakeside resort!

Well good luck...........personally I'd take in a couple cans of gas and burn the thing if it were me ...let them record away!

liberal supporter said...

Hopefully arson is a capital offense in that nation of cottages. Then Canada will refuse to extradite you (if you manage to get back over the border)...

Anonymous said...

Is it self governed native land or Crown Land?

Either way if they have a law on the books against burning down houses it would be the first time that ever got enforced!

Ever been to or stayed on a rez??

And if it was my cottage I'd take my chances!!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I can't even imagine how these people are feeling. Their cottages are like second homes. Poof! It's gone.

Seniors are concerned about getting their boats out in January. Not usually an easy thing in Ontario, but of course this winter is a bit unusual. Maybe those seniors will get a chance.

Anonymous said...

What I can't understand is why anyone would build a cottage on leased land.

In some cases, it's required. When we were still thinking Manitoba was a permanent move, we were looking into getting a lot at Hecla Island (crown land). They had 90 year leases, and one of the requirments was that you *had* to build withing 2 years. Anything with 4 walls, a roof and lockable door.

I wonder if there was any sort of stipulation like this on these leases.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yeah, I guess the situation in Caledonia is more of a "freehold" situation.

(Sorry, the devil made me do it.)

Anonymous said...

Well it seems to be a really bad situation...the cottagers being pawns in the native versus government game! But the leaseholders did not exactly have this sprung on them overnight as this was just the latest escallation and those who were paying attention probably have removed their possessions.

Actually....those who were really paying attention sold their cottages long ago......when the Band first challenged the Feds over the use of the land.

Although they may be outside the Native Land ( have not seen a map of the claim) .... Hope Bay also has businesses that will be affected by this..Bed And Breakfasts as well as restaurants and other tourism services are going to take a big hit. I'll always remember the B&B that found room for my family at the last minute so we had a decent nights sleep before going out on the morning Cheecheemon out of Tobermory ......what a great guy!
Maybe it will all work out and maybe not.
BTW - there are many land lease areas in Ontario and Manitoba as well as BC that I know of...not all are being challenged by native bands but some are or have been.

Anonymous said...

As being one of the cottagers I can tell you that ALL of this came as a huge surprise! Don't anyone kid themselves. The government are not the ones to blame and nor are the cottagers.

All of this came to us in December by registered letter and THAT was the first any of us knew about it!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon- Why all the secrecy? Why are the cottagers being so "cooperative"?

Anonymous said...

The cottagers are being co-operative at the moment because we are in negotiations (through the lawyers) in getting what we are deserved. The battle is just beginning!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Anon, this is fascinating. If you have any extra info please email me at the addy on my profile. I promise to keep it confidential, and will only post information that you approve. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Here is a new article that is in the Globe and Mail today. It gives the chronology of the events leading up to the issue at hand. Hope this link works...

Anonymous said...

Seems that the link didn't work....
Here is a copy and paste of the story.

Hope runs out in cottage country
Families leasing land on Hope Bay, Ont., from the Chippewas First Nation must vacate by Jan. 31, ANTHONY REINHART writes


For as long as there have been cottages, there have been cottage rituals: morning coffee on the dock, campfires after dark, good reads on rainy days.

From earliest boyhood, Don McKenzie has ended each stay at the family hideaway, on Ontario's Bruce Peninsula, with a quiet moment down by the water.

"And when we get to the top of the road, he always looks back and says, 'Bye, Hope Bay,' " the 20-year-old's mother, Karen McCulloch, said this week. "And he did it this time, too."

Ms. McCulloch fears that "this time," which came and went during a sombre late-December visit to remove all their belongings, will be the last. On Dec. 1, the federal government told her family and 67 others that they had two months to clear out their cottages and leave their buildings behind, on land they had leased from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation.

The cottagers have always known the leasing arrangement could end, but Ms. McCulloch, a Waterloo, Ont., resident who speaks for them, has compiled a sheaf of documents in support of their claim that it never should have happened this way.

Specifically, the leases always acknowledged cottagers' ownership of their buildings and the right to remove them within a month of termination. In turn, early termination of any lease by the band traditionally required a one-year notice.

On paper, the notice requirement changed in 1995, when all the cottage leases expired, and negotiations began between the band and Indian Affairs to come up with new ones. From that point, the previous lease stated that holdover tenancy was to be month to month, although, in practice, Indian Affairs continued collecting cottagers' rent on behalf of the band yearly, not monthly. Similarly, the band kept collecting its service fees, for such things as garbage pickup and road maintenance, once a year.

All the while since 1995, Indian Affairs continued to tell cottagers, in writing, that new leases were in negotiation, and lots changed hands and cottages continued to be sold to new owners.

The documents show that in at least one case, Indian Affairs sent a draft copy of a new lease, in June of 2000, for an existing cottager to show to potential buyers. The band, meanwhile, billed the annual $500 service fee, for the "2006/07 season," to at least one cottager last July 28.

"The practice was that we thought we had yearly tenancy because we were paying on a yearly basis," Ms. McCulloch said.

"Clearly, one would expect fair notice, especially when there's negotiations ongoing for a long period of time. And, certainly, if things aren't going well, one would expect to be told so, as opposed to being abruptly told you have to vacate."

The first sign of trouble appeared last May, when cottagers' annual $1,500 rent cheques were returned, uncashed, by the government. A No Trespassing sign was erected at the entrance to the cottage road, saying permits were required to enter. Later that month, cottagers received temporary permits to occupy the land until Oct. 31. An accompanying letter said leases had expired and no authority to issue new ones had been given by the band.

Still, the band charged service fees for 2006/07 and sent no notice to cottagers as Oct. 31 passed.

Cottagers made repeated requests to the government for information, and on Nov. 24, one of them received an e-mail from an Indian Affairs official who wrote that "negotiations are ongoing" between the government and the band.

The bad news came a week later, on Dec. 1, when Indian Affairs sent registered letters to cottagers saying their temporary permits had expired Oct. 31, and "therefore you no longer have the right to use and occupy the said land."

Cottagers were advised to call the band office to arrange appointments to remove their belongings before Jan. 31.

More jarring was the issue of building ownership: "You are not allowed to remove or dismantle any structures affixed to the land," said the letter, signed by Leea Litzgus, the department's Ontario director of lands and trusts services.

"The First Nation is of the view that the fixtures on the reserve now form part of the reserve land."

And thus began the cottagers' scramble, over the holidays, to collect their things, while lawyers began talks with the band and Indian Affairs on the fate of their buildings and tenancies.

For Ms. McCulloch and her in-laws, who have been leasing on Hope Bay since 1968 and have four cottage lots, it meant five cube-van rentals in order to haul it all away.

Worse, perhaps, are the unanswered questions.

Last month, an Indian Affairs spokeswoman said the Nawash band voted, in September of 2005, to redesignate the cottage lots for continued leasing, but a new band council, elected shortly afterward, did not approve that vote, effectively ending the leases.

Yesterday, another department spokesman, Brock Worobel, said Indian Affairs is awaiting word from the band on a possible redesignation vote this spring.

Still, cottagers say they have received no updates from the government and no meaningful information from the band, although they had always enjoyed "wonderful relations," Ms. McCulloch said.

"We would like a meeting with the other parties," she said. "I think that would be a really good starting place."

In the meantime, her garage in Waterloo sits half-filled with life jackets, sailing gear and other trappings of cottage life, while other items have been crammed into rooms throughout the house.

Her photo albums, filled with images of a growing family enjoying summers, birthdays, the occasional Christmas, await new memories.

"I think you can reach a resolution better with a rational approach," she said.

"We don't want to become adversaries, but we do want our significant stakeholder interests to be recognized."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, anon. I hadn't seen this particular article.

And it seems that the LFP link I had provided in the original post is no longer available.

I can see why cottagers are proceeding cautiously. You would want to explore all avenues of negotication and legalities before taking this further.

Very interesting. I'll be watching this for further developments. Please do keep me informed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Cottagers claim buildings are theirs; Group coy about plans to go to court

Local News - Thursday, January 11, 2007 @ 08:00

Cottage buildings at Hope Bay still belong to the families who built them, a spokeswoman for 70 families forced from their summer homes on leased First Nation land said Wednesday.

Karen McCulloch would not say if the cottagers plan a legal challenge. "Our first hope still is for a meeting to sit down and work things out."

But neither Chippewas of Nawash leaders nor Indian and Northern Affairs Canada officials have responded to the cottagers' numerous requests for both more information and a meeting.

Most of the 70 families have collected their furniture and other property from the cottages as ordered in a Dec. 1 letter from INAC. But they haven't given up on buildings the First Nation now claims as part of the reserve, McCulloch said.

"We really would like to know from the First Nation, do they want to discontinue leasing? Do they want us out on a permanent basis? If they don't want us out on a permanent basis, then I don't know why we're moving," McCulloch said Wednesday.

"It's just so hard and so frustrating because we don't know."

The cottagers believe leases that expired in 1993 remain in force through an overholding clause, she said.

Those leases with INAC direct that tenants receive 12 months notice if the land is to become unavailable for cottage rental purposes. They also give cottagers the right within 30 days to remove any buildings they erected on the leased land, after which they would become the property of the Crown.

Instead, and despite years of INAC assurances - one in an e-mail as recently as last November - that negotiations toward new leases were proceeding, the cottagers in a December letter from INAC were abruptly ordered out and given until Jan. 31 to collect their belongings.

INAC spokesman Brock Worobel said Wednesday the federal government does not have a position on cottage ownership, and he would not discuss terms of the expired leases with INAC on behalf of the First Nation land holders.

"The First Nation is of the opinion that the cottages are theirs," Worobel said. "We do not have a position on who owns the cottages and that needs to be decided in a court of law."

McCulloch said the cottagers believe they own the buildings and most have retained the same law firm.

"Cottagers aren't giving up. They're moving their belongings to be co-operative in the process and protect the things that are important to them, but the cottagers still maintain that they own the buildings," she said.

Worobel also said a senior INAC official is preparing a response for the cottagers' lawyer to their requests for a meeting, but he did not know what that response would be.

"What we're waiting for is the First Nation to signal to us if they are willing to hold a redesignation vote in the spring," he said.

Worobel could not say why there was not 12 months notice that the property would be unavailable, nor opportunity to remove buildings as set out in the leases with INAC.

"At this point the legalities of the lease need to be decided upon in a court of law," Worobel said. "The ownership and the leasing and all of that, we do not have a position on."

Nawash Chief Paul Nadjiwan was unavailable Wednesday. The chief has consistently declined comment on Hope Bay Subdivision.

The only public indication of the band's position has been through a statement to the media released early in December.

"The First Nation will be assessing the land and fixtures as soon as possible," the statement said. "Over the winter the band and council hopes to consider future use or possible designation of the lands. And decisions on this matter will be based on what the band council and the First Nation believes is in our best interest."

McCulloch said the cottagers have no idea what that really means for them and the buildings they've invested in.

One summer resident spent $46,000 on a 384 sq. ft. addition finished in the spring of 2005. Another added a $30,000 porch and siding in the fall of 2005, completed last spring. A family spent close to $40,000 on an addition completed last July.

All were approved by band officials with no indication the tenants' hold on the property would end, McCulloch said.

The Hope Bay Subdivision's waterfront cottages are on scenic Chippewas of Nawash land at the north end of the First Nation.

The property was first designated for leasing in 1965, with the first five-year leases issued in 1968, then 20-year leases in 1973. Both required the vacationers to invest in buildings with the expectation the lease holders would own the buildings, McCulloch said.

The 1968 lease required "that the lessee agrees to construct a dwelling house on the demised land with a minimum area of 480 square feet in floor space."

The 1973 lease required lease holders to build a structure worth at least $5,500 within three years.

The last of the leases expired in 1995 and the designation of the reserve land for leasing also expired that year and has not been renewed.

The Nawash community voted in 2005 to again designate the land for leasing under terms of The Indian Act, but a new band council and chief elected in July that year did not confirm the vote, an INAC spokeswoman said in December.

Although the future of the leases has been uncertain since 1995, throughout that time INAC officials have assured cottagers new leases were coming. Some residents were at one stage shown draft copies of a lease extending to 2015.

A 1998 letter from Richard Chong, then Ontario director of lands and trusts services for INAC, advised cottagers that although their leases were expired, they were each considered "an over holding tenant" as negotiations continued.

Until 2005, the tenants continued paying their $1,500 annual lease fee to INAC and a $500 yearly maintenance fee for garbage collection, fire protection and other services to the First Nation. McCulloch said during that 10 years, relations remained cordial, people made cottage improvements, some sold buildings to new tenants and there was every indication throughout that new leases were in the works.

That changed last spring, when the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation posted no trespassing signs and would not allow cottagers on the land without new temporary six-month permits for a $3,300 fee. Those expired Oct. 31.

With the history of delay towards a new lease, the knowledge that each year their tenancy always continued without it, amiable relations always with the First Nation and the INAC assurances new leases would eventually come, cottagers assumed they would have cottage access again in 2007 - until the Dec. 1 letter.

"Perhaps we were naive, but everything we were told led us to believe that they're still working on an agreement and that it will be coming," McCulloch said. "We really did believe when we were told that a new lease agreement was being worked on that it in fact would at some point be worked out and presented to us."

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Anon. Is there a link for this?

Anonymous said...

If you Google "Owen Sound Sun Times" it's on their front page under a thread. I can't seem to paste up links correctly on your blog. It isn't pasting the entire string.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Not a problem. Thanks, I found it as you suggested.

I'll try to do a follow-up post soon. Thanks again.