Before the dam, water flowed into Stanjikoming Bay from the Rainy River through a narrow channel lined with trees and underbrush.

People came from afar to the area replete with manomin, muskrat, ducks and geese drawn by wild rice beds.

And then the dam was built. The lake rose and flooded the wild rice beds, the channel and the surrounding land.

Now, the waterway is wide and shallow, lined with sandy shores. Two more channels also flow into the bay.

There is no wild rice; the geese and ducks fly past.

“Life is different. Visitors come but not for wild rice.”

This brief history of Mitaanjigamiing First Nation, about 70 kilometres north of Fort Frances, Ont., posted on the Nation’s website, conveys the damage done when a dam was erected across the Rainy River in 1909 between Fort Frances and International Falls.

It flooded the reserve, changing the land and its inhabitants’ way of life forever. And it has continued to cause flooding in the century since, forcing evacuations, threatening homes and infrastructure and destroying roads.

Canada and Ontario are finally compensating the Mitaanjigamiing First Nation.

A joint press release Tuesday announced the First Nation had reached an $84.45-million settlement with the federal and provincial governments for “the unauthorized and uncompensated flooding of reserve land.”

A joint press release Tuesday announced the First Nation had reached an $84.45-million settlement with the federal and provincial governments for “the unauthorized and uncompensated flooding of reserve land.”

Canada will pay $45.05 million and Ontario, $39.4 million.

Mitaanjigamiing filed its claim in 1994, but it wasn’t accepted for negotiation by Ontario until 2003 and the feds in 2009, a century after the dam was built.

“After many years of negotiations, I am very pleased to state that a former long outstanding Chief, the late Allan Henderson Sr.’s vision was to file these claims for the future generations,” said Mitaanjigamiing Chief Janice Henderson in a joint statement with the provincial and federal governments. “This flood claim … will provide prosperity for our children and youth today and for our future generations.”

Jaime Battiste, parliamentary secretary to federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, called the settlement “an important step.”

“Today, we acknowledge Canada’s failure to protect the community’s lands and reiterate our commitment to rebuilding the broken trust,” Battiste said in a statement. “Together, we will continue to address these historical wrongs and support Mitaanjigamiing First Nation as it builds toward a brighter future for their community.”

Ontario’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said the settlement “demonstrates Ontario’s commitment to rectifying historical wrongs and moving forward together on the path of reconciliation.”