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Two First Nations bring court application to review $510M lawyer bill for treaty work

Written by on June 10, 2024

OTTAWA — Two First Nations have launched a court application against lawyers who helped bring forward a $10-billion settlement with Canada and Ontario, saying they’re being paid too much for their work.

The Robinson Huron settlement, reached last year, sought to remedy unpaid treaty annuities for 21 First Nations.

The First Nations said the $4-per-person annuity had not increased since 1874, and that breached the treaty because resource extraction projects have used their land for generations.

Lawyers who argued for the settlement sought $510 million in legal fees for their work, saying half of that would be used for more work on the treaty, including further litigation.

But Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Garden River First Nation say the First Nations have already paid millions of dollars in legal fees, with many taking out loans to do so, and are asking Ontario’s Superior Court to reconsider.

Garden River First Nation Chief Karen Bell says she has an “obligation to seek accountability and transparency,” and the application should not disrupt payments to beneficiaries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024.

The Canadian Press