“Enhancing and supporting Aboriginal business and economic development through a range of distinct services.”
“To become the Hub of the North for all first nation communities in Northwestern Ontario”
Long before the first European explorers set foot on what is now Canada, the ancestors of the present-day members of Fort William First Nation lived along the north shore of Lake Superior near the mouth of the Kaministiquia River. Settlers from eastern Canada and Europe found the area attractive too, as demonstrated by the growth of the adjacent City of Thunder Bay (originally the towns of Fort William and Port Arthur)
The Fort William Reserve was created in 1853, as a condition of the 1850 Robinson-Superior Treaty. The Chief and Headmen who signed the Treaty intended that the Reserve would provide not just for their children, but for their grandchildren’s grandchildren. However, most of the best Reserve land was taken within about three generations.
In the negotiations of The Robinson Superior Treaty, Fort William agreed not to interfere with foreign settlers. In return, the Crown promised cash payments and trade goods, annuities beginning in 1851, complete freedom to continue to hunt and fish as before (except on private land) and a Reserve at Fort William.
At that time, Fort William First Nation was a thriving community. Most people made their living in traditional ways, but took advantage of the nearby Hudson’s Bay Post to sell furs and buy supplies. About ten families were employed in the commercial fishery, exporting many barrels of salted fish annually to Detroit and points east.