This claim dates back some 150 years to the mid-19th century. The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation claim that moneys owed to the First Nation from the sale of surrendered lands were wrongfully appropriated around 1854 by Joseph Brant Clench, an officer with the Indian Department. In 1974, some 27 years ago, the Union of Ontario Indians brought the matter of the “Clench Defalcation” (as the claim is known) to the attention of the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Judd Buchanan. On February 21, 1975, Mr. Buchanan informed Delbert Riley, the acting director of the Treaty Research Program for the Union of Ontario Indians, that, in light of a final release signed by the chiefs and principal men of the Chippewas in 1906, the Government of Canada had found no basis for negotiating the claim.

On August 4th, 1998, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (the “claimant”) passed a Band Council Resolution requesting that the Indian Claims Commission (ICC) conduct an inquiry into the rejection of the claim by Canada. Specifically, the claimant alleged that the Chippewas of the Thames had surrendered approximately 3,000 acres of reserve land to the Crown in 1834, but that the proceeds of sale from that surrender and other sales dealt with by J.B. Clench did not make their way to the Chippewas and had been the subject of a defalcation. Rather than seeking an inquiry per se as the Band Council Resolution authorized, however, the Chippewas of the Thames suggested to the Commission that a review of the research materials of both Canada and the claimant could assist the claimant in understanding why its claim had been rejected by Canada, and would perhaps enable the parties to decide whether mediation would be necessary or appropriate. This review was jointly carried out and ultimately led Canada to reconsider the rejection of the First Nation’s claim. Canada then offered to accept this claim for negotiation – an offer the First Nation accepted.