The Saugeen Anishnaabek occupied a land base of about 2 million acres prior to the arrival of the British. This area included a point presently known as the Town of Arthur, extending west to Lake Huron and north to Georgian Bay. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was created to protect First Nations land in North America. The Proclamation was meant to halt or at least slow down European settlement.
Regardless, the European encroachment and promise of land on Manitoulin Island convinced the Saugeen Anishnaabek to surrender all land south of Owen Sound. In 1847, Queen Victoria issued a Royal Declaration which confirmed the Saugeen Anishnaabek held the Saugeen Peninsula, which was given as a line between Southampton and Owen Sound and included any islands within seven miles of the coast.
In 1850, the Government of Canada passed an act to protect First Nations land against squatters and loggers. These legal documents have done little to protect native lands. In the following year, the Government of Canada and the Saugeen Ojibway signed the Half-Mile Strip Treaty, where over 4,000 acres was surrendered for a road to join Owen Sound and Southampton.
Laurence Oliphant, Superintendent General for Indian Affairs, negotiated Treaty No. 72 with the Saugeen Anishnaabek in 1854. In the Treaty, the Saugeen Anishnaabek ceded a little less than 500,000 acres of the peninsula. In exchange, they were to receive proceeds from all lands sold to be held in trust, as well the remaining reserves would be protected from encroachment. The remaining reserves were Chief’s Point, Saugeen Reserve (Owen Sound), Colpoy’s Bay Reserve (Big Bay), and Cape Croker Indian Reserve No. 27, as well as the Fishing Islands in Lake Huron, Cape Hurd islands, and three islands at the entrance to Colpoy’s Bay.
When the 10,000 acre Nawash Reserve to the west of Owen Sound was surrendered in 1857, the residents were to move to Cape Croker, but many did not want to. In 1861, the Colpoy’s Bay Reserve (6,000 acres) was surrendered. Some moved to Cape Croker and Southampton, but the majority moved to Christian Island. Finally, the Fishing Islands, Cape Hurd Islands, Griffith Island, Hay Island and White Cloud Island were surrendered from 1885 to 1899. It took until 1968 for approximately 90 fishing islands in Lake Huron to be returned to the Saugeen Anishnaabek.
The Environment Office serves the Joint Chiefs and Councils (Joint Council) of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and their respective communities and membership. The concept of the SON Environment Office was approved by Joint Council on October 7th, 2004.
Joint Council is comprised of the Neyaashiinigmiing chief and council as well as the Saugeen chief and council. They meet frequently to discuss and decide upon issues that effect the Territory.
SON Environment Office consists of many different files, administrated by employees. They report directly to Joint Council and coordinate meetings of the four committees following committees.
Committees of the SON EO:
- Advisory Team is intended to engage with the Crown, OPG, NWMO and other external parties.
- Anishnaabek Izhitwaawinan Inaakonigewin Maawanji’idiwag Committee: ensures our values, teachings and law are central to our community process.
- Youth Committee: provides input and direction to engage SON youth so they may meaningfully participate in the community process.
- Community Engagement Working Group: finds ways to include and engage SON community members in the community process by identifying needs, reviewing communications materials and planning events and activities.