On September 9, 2014, representatives of the 21 First Nations of the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 brought a lawsuit against Canada and Ontario for their failure to implement the annuity augmentation terms of the 1850 treaty as understood by the Ojibways of Lake Huron.
By: Ogimaa Duke Peltier
Miisa nongo Gchi wiindamaadiwin zhinjigaadeg enji dabaakiniding. Gchi Ogimaa gaawii gwek zhichigesii ga zhi wiindamoowad Anishinaaben.
On September 9, 1850, the Chiefs and Principle men of the Ojibways of Lake Huron entered into treaty with the British Crown. The treaty committed the Crown to provide treaty annuities, including the augmentation of annuities as the lands produced revenue that would support an increase in the annuities without incurring loss. Initially the value of the annuity was $1.
The real question here is why Canada has benefited from Treaty, but First Nation People carry the burden of Treaty. This is not the way it should be. OGIMAA DUKE PELTIER
In 1874 the value was increased to $4 and has remained unchanged since that time, despite the vast amount of resource development that has occurred within Robinson-Huron Treaty territories and the wealth the has been created as a result of that development.
The Treaty is a two way agreement between the Lake Huron Ojibways on one side and on the other side – the British Crown, Canada and Ontario, Canadian citizens, Ontario residents and private companies. We are all treaty people.
TREATIES BETWEEN OUR NATIONS ARE THE FOUNDATION OF THIS COUNTRY
Treaties between our Nations are the foundation of this country. They are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution, so they are part of the supreme law of the land. Because all citizens benefit from the treaty, it is important for all citizens to know about the Robinson Huron Treaty and understand its obligations.
Our ancestors negotiated an agreement 167 years ago which was forward looking in the form of resource revenue sharing and maintained governmental power for the treaty beneficiaries because the Treaty does not compromise our sovereignty.
Through our Treaty, our Chiefs intended to protect and defend our territory and our Nation.
The misconception that Canada gave us our set of rights is a fallacy, it’s just not true. I rights weren’t given to us by anyone, they’re inherent, they were here when Settlers arrived here. Our rights, if we’re going to call them that, were given to us by the creator.” PAM PALMATER
Contrary to what many Canadians believe, nothing has been given to our First Nation.
In fact, it was our First Nations who agreed to share our resources with the newcomers, now Canadians.
The 1850 Treaty protects and recognizes rights we already possessed.
This is a very important point.
The Crown didn’t give us anything.
ENSURING THE CROWN LIVES UP TO ITS OBLIGATIONS UNDER TREATY
The Robinson-Huron Treaty intended to provide economic benefits for the First Nations parties to the Treaty in perpetuity. Significant wealth has been and continues to be generated from resource development within the Treaty territory, yet many of our First Nations people still live in poverty. This is unacceptable.
This despite the fact that the Treaty is explicit in stating that the annuities would increase if the resource revenue generated from the territory produced such an amount as to enable the increase without incurring a loss.
We intend to ensure that the Crown lives up to its obligations under the Treaty.
We want to be self-sustaining.
We want to provide our children with a bright Anishinaabe future.
We look forward to being full partners in the economy and in building a better society for us all.
We seek justice for ourselves and peace between our Nations. We know that
without justice, there is no peace.
We have been patient. We want nothing more than our fair share.
We want a just settlement – one that will not only be good for First Nation economies, but also for the regional economy in north eastern Ontario.
We have tried repeatedly over the years to get the Crown to address this outstanding issue.
Our first petition was in 1870, just 20 years after the Treaty was signed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says: “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”
The Robinson Huron Treaty Chiefs believe those words should mean a relationship between sovereign governments, not an Indian Act relationship.
The above was originally posted on Facebook by Ogimaa Duke Peltier from Wikwemkoong. It is reposted, unedited with permission.