'It will validate the treaty': Why 21 Ontario First Nations are challenging Canada over $4 payments - APTN NewsAPTN News

‘It will validate the treaty’: Why 21 Ontario First Nations are challenging Canada over $4 payments

(From left to right: Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier, Wasauksing Chief Warren Tabobondung, Shawanaga Chief Wayne Pamajewon, Batchewana Chief Dean Sayers, outside of the teepee on June 4, 2018, the start of the final arguments in the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuities court case. Contributed photo)

Lucy Scholey
APTN News
When Commissioner William Benjamin Robinson’s treaties were signed in 1850, the average Indigenous person living in one of the Lake Superior or Lake Huron bands should have received an annuity payment of about $1.60.

Back then, that could have easily afforded a bushel of corn, a pound each of pork and plug tobacco at the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Today, under the terms of that same treaty, those band members receive just $4 in annuities – a dollar figure that has not budged since 1874.

Now lawyers representing 21 Anishinabek Nations are in court this week for the final arguments in a landmark case that aims to clarify the interpretation of an “augmentation” clause in the Robinson-Huron Treaty and Robinson Superior Treaty.

“If we’re successful in the courts, it will validate the treaty itself,” said Mike Restoule, chair of the Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation committee, who has been helping work on this case for 26 years.

In September 2017, the case finally landed in court – first in Thunder Bay and then on to courtrooms throughout the territory over months of testimony.

The closing arguments started in Sudbury on Monday and are expected to last until June 22.

The plaintiffs, who represent 30,000 First Nations people in the Anishinabek territories north of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, argue that the federal and provincial governments have failed to uphold their end of the treaties.

In 1850, after years of negotiations, those First Nations signed on to Commissioner William Benjamin Robinson’s treaties. Their members each received lump payments and were set to receive annuities thereafter.

Mike Restoule, chair of the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation committee.

 

The treaties state that if the territory is ceded, then the government could “increase the annuity hereby secured to them, then and in that case the same shall be augmented from time to time.”

However, this depended on resource extraction.

“If resource revenues went up, then so too would the annuity payments,” wrote researcher James Morrison, in a 1996 report for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

The position of the Ontario and federal governments is that once the annuities reached $4 per person, the ability for the treaty to ensure the Anishinabek received a “fair and equitable share of the proceeds of the land was wholly exhausted.”

The plaintiffs are seeking clarity on the treaty’s intention and argue the court must choose the meaning that “best reconciles the First Nation interests and those of the Crown.”

While those 30,000 beneficiaries could stand to financially benefit from an increase in annuities, Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier said a court win could also ensure the Crown abides by the original principles of the treaty.

“The understanding of our people was that the nation-to-nation relationship that was entered into in September 9 of 1850 was that there would be mutual respect, that there would be mutual benefits and the sharing of the territory as was requested of the Anishinabek peoples that live here,” he said.

A ruling will follow the closing arguments. If a settlement is not reached, then the process will move on to a second phase beginning in the spring of 2019.

Restoule said many people perceive treaties as dead historical documents. He hopes this court case changes that.

“Our position is that this is a living document.”

lscholey@aptn.ca

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40 Responses to “‘It will validate the treaty’: Why 21 Ontario First Nations are challenging Canada over $4 payments”

  1. charlene1959@hotmail.ca'
    Charlene June 11, 2018 at 2:16 am #

    Really! Canada had taken everything away from the Indigenous people in Canada, culture, traditions, language, children, land. Teaties were signed so you and the settlers can live here on this territory and make a living. In those treaties there was an agreement as in a contract for the government/crown to follow in order to get the lands from the Indigenous people of this country. Read the Robinson Huron and Superior Treaty as everything is stated in there for the Indigenous benefits in exchange for those lands and resources and lands that were ceded and that you now live on and make a living on. This land was not given for free and the crown could not show title to these lands other than signed treaties from the Indigenous peoples. So in exchange for these lands they want what is owed to them as the Indigenous people are the poorest in their own country and stuck under the Indian Act and all they want is what was original agreed to in the signed treaty agreements between the crown and Indigenous people. If you put up your land you would expect to get something in return? Canada is a country full of abundance and the crown wanted that so in exchange Treaty agreements were made, but were not raised or paid by the crown/governments since 1874. The crown and it’s representatives agreed to these treaty agreements and what is stated in them. Indigenous people are the poorest people in this country and all the rich resources this country has taken from these land has not been in the pockets of Indigenous people, but rather the governments/crowns. Comments of accusations and blame toward Indigenous people only hold me to believe that you are uneducated and do know the history of Canada with it’s Indigenous people. You and every other non-Indigenous person are also a part of these treaty agreements here in Canada and the courts will now decide. In my own opinion, these Chiefs would not have given this land away for free! and expect nothing in return. After treaties were signed Sept 1850 annuity monies were to be paid to the Indigenous people, the government stop paying. The Indigenous people are still here and those Treaty agreements are just as alive as the crown is within those Treaty agreements and as to the ceded land in those Treaty agreements she hold title to those lands from those Treaty Agreements along with obligations within those Treaty agreements to the Indigenous people. “They won’t be happy until Canada fore fills their obligations” from those Treaty agreements. Bankrupt; debt; in arrears. Taking and using something and not paying for it, owing money, creating debt, did Canada create debt or did they just not pay?

    • sheilakarensumner@hotmail.com'
      Sheila June 11, 2018 at 11:23 pm #

      @Charlene, you are well educated in your history of the indigenous peoples and the treaties. Well done!

  2. c***********@hotmail.ca'
    Charlene February 19, 2019 at 9:10 pm #

    Really! Canada had taken everything away from the Indigenous people in Canada, culture, traditions, language, children, land. Teaties were signed so you and the settlers can live here on this territory and make a living. In those treaties there was an agreement as in a contract for the government/crown to follow in order to get the lands from the Indigenous people of this country. Read the Robinson Huron and Superior Treaty as everything is stated in there for the Indigenous benefits in exchange for those lands and resources and lands that were ceded and that you now live on and make a living on. This land was not given for free and the crown could not show title to these lands other than signed treaties from the Indigenous peoples. So in exchange for these lands they want what is owed to them as the Indigenous people are the poorest in their own country and stuck under the Indian Act and all they want is what was original agreed to in the signed treaty agreements between the crown and Indigenous people. If you put up your land you would expect to get something in return? Canada is a country full of abundance and the crown wanted that so in exchange Treaty agreements were made, but were not raised or paid by the crown/governments since 1874. The crown and it’s representatives agreed to these treaty agreements and what is stated in them. Indigenous people are the poorest people in this country and all the rich resources this country has taken from these land has not been in the pockets of Indigenous people, but rather the governments/crowns. Comments of accusations and blame toward Indigenous people only hold me to believe that you are uneducated and do know the history of Canada with it’s Indigenous people. You and every other non-Indigenous person are also a part of these treaty agreements here in Canada and the courts will now decide. In my own opinion, these Chiefs would not have given this land away for free! and expect nothing in return. After treaties were signed Sept 1850 annuity monies were to be paid to the Indigenous people, the government stop paying. The Indigenous people are still here and those Treaty agreements are just as alive as the crown is within those Treaty agreements and as to the ceded land in those Treaty agreements she hold title to those lands from those Treaty Agreements along with obligations within those Treaty agreements to the Indigenous people. “They won’t be happy until Canada fore fills their obligations” from those Treaty agreements. Bankrupt; debt; in arrears. Taking and using something and not paying for it, owing money, creating debt, did Canada create debt or did they just not pay?

    • s****************@hotmail.com'
      Sheila February 20, 2019 at 12:40 am #

      @Charlene, you are well educated in your history of the indigenous peoples and the treaties. Well done!

  3. Patc@46gmial.com'
    Pat June 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm #

    Guess we would have to live off the land again then…

  4. p***@46gmial.com'
    Pat February 19, 2019 at 9:10 pm #

    Guess we would have to live off the land again then…

  5. bdeleary@cottfn.ca'
    Beverly Deleary June 8, 2018 at 4:34 am #

    With nothing being done by the Canadian Government – declare the treaty null and void and demand the land back – being the land owners – tax them, charge them rent and $ to lease the land and any project can’t go ahead unless indigenous people have their day based on what they want

    • franluvsdan@gmail.com'
      Fran June 12, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

      Well said ! When you sign a contract with fiduciary responsibility and don’t live up to the contract signed it becomes null and void !

  6. b*******@cottfn.ca'
    Beverly Deleary February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    With nothing being done by the Canadian Government – declare the treaty null and void and demand the land back – being the land owners – tax them, charge them rent and $ to lease the land and any project can’t go ahead unless indigenous people have their day based on what they want

    • f**********@gmail.com'
      Fran February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      Well said ! When you sign a contract with fiduciary responsibility and don’t live up to the contract signed it becomes null and void !

  7. Cornbacker@yahoo.com'
    Brad June 7, 2018 at 10:41 pm #

    The crown honours itself when it honours the treaties. Greatest respect to the chiefs assembled here. We are all treaty people and we are all responsible. These annuities are long past due and the crown needs to meet its obligations.

  8. c*********@yahoo.com'
    Brad February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    The crown honours itself when it honours the treaties. Greatest respect to the chiefs assembled here. We are all treaty people and we are all responsible. These annuities are long past due and the crown needs to meet its obligations.

  9. outlawfilmpro@gmail.com'
    Derek Stephen McPhail June 7, 2018 at 12:49 am #

    validating treaties signed in good faith by our First Nations will never bankrupt Canada, but only enrich this nation. continuing to yearly spend billions of dollars in corporate welfare and maintain unsustainable “Free Trade” deals that continue to allow the corporate rape of Canada’s natural resources is what will bankrupt Canada.

  10. o************@gmail.com'
    Derek Stephen McPhail February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    validating treaties signed in good faith by our First Nations will never bankrupt Canada, but only enrich this nation. continuing to yearly spend billions of dollars in corporate welfare and maintain unsustainable “Free Trade” deals that continue to allow the corporate rape of Canada’s natural resources is what will bankrupt Canada.

  11. rynomig@yahoo.ca'
    Ryno June 6, 2018 at 7:56 pm #

    They will be happy when the Crown fulfills their end of the agreement, which made the First Nations people bankrupt and Canada rich through the exploitation of the resources.

  12. anitamichelle11@outlook.com'
    Anita Michelle June 6, 2018 at 7:34 pm #

    … the leader of the USA is fast tracking Canada to bankruptcy, he should know… he’s been there twice!

  13. joannehusak123@gmail.com'
    Joe June 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

    They won’t be happy until Canada is bankrupt.

    • Danfthomas820@gmail.com'
      Dan Thomas June 6, 2018 at 7:13 pm #

      If it will bankrupt Canada to deal honestly with the landowners then Canada should have no business touching the resources.

    • John_mattias@outlook.com'
      Not Joe June 6, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

      If honouring your contracts bankrupt you, you did it wrong.

    • Stinkzcorner@gmail.com'
      Oh..canada.. June 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

      Sounds like a canada’s problem lol. Shouldnt have f****d people around from the start. Now the feds are probably going to be paying for it.. In the 10s of billions.. And thats nothing to canada. It will print more money. Or tax the people more..in the end. It will be all forgotten.

    • mail@michaelmaranda.com'
      Michael June 7, 2018 at 12:49 am #

      Canada is morally bankrupt until the spirit of the treaties is followed

    • Dave@swordpoint.ca'
      Dave June 7, 2018 at 1:35 am #

      You need to learn a little history about why those payments exist, where the money actually comes from, and how First nations people have been cheated time and time again. They won’t bankrupt Canada, but pipeline-buying politicians might.

    • Pelder88@hotmail.com'
      Heather June 7, 2018 at 7:04 pm #

      Time for the people of Canada to have a vote on ‘when we can stop paying for the ‘sins’ of our fathers.
      Lynn Beyak for Prime Minister.

      • mranger555@gmail.com'
        michael R. June 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm #

        Please so tell when aboriginals here in Canada have lived free of oppression, frauds, abuses, and biases. The “sins” continue to this very second. And if your forefathers engaged in actions that deprived natives of lands, resources, etc; you too must have benefited from those acts.

    • 3pisces@gmail.com'
      Janice Groves June 9, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

      Is Canada happy knowing the nation is built on the Native American lands and has grown wealthy from it while leaving the First Nations in poverty?

    • franluvsdan@gmail.com'
      Fran June 12, 2018 at 2:44 pm #

      Ignorance is not bliss, do your homework before you comment please.

    • mranger555@gmail.com'
      michael June 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

      Good. Trillions they owe and have kept the Indian Trust fund invested, and the interest it earns alone is much greater than monies paid to ALL aboriginals to date. Its time they pay up. No reason aboriginal people should be living sub standard of other Canadians

  14. r******@yahoo.ca'
    Ryno February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    They will be happy when the Crown fulfills their end of the agreement, which made the First Nations people bankrupt and Canada rich through the exploitation of the resources.

  15. a**************@outlook.com'
    Anita Michelle February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    … the leader of the USA is fast tracking Canada to bankruptcy, he should know… he’s been there twice!

  16. j*************@gmail.com'
    Joe February 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm #

    They won’t be happy until Canada is bankrupt.

    • d************@gmail.com'
      Dan Thomas February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      If it will bankrupt Canada to deal honestly with the landowners then Canada should have no business touching the resources.

    • j***********@outlook.com'
      Not Joe February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      If honouring your contracts bankrupt you, you did it wrong.

    • s***********@gmail.com'
      Oh..canada.. February 20, 2019 at 1:17 am #

      Sounds like a canada’s problem lol. Shouldnt have f****d people around from the start. Now the feds are probably going to be paying for it.. In the 10s of billions.. And thats nothing to canada. It will print more money. Or tax the people more..in the end. It will be all forgotten.

    • m***@michaelmaranda.com'
      Michael February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      Canada is morally bankrupt until the spirit of the treaties is followed

    • d***@swordpoint.ca'
      Dave February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      You need to learn a little history about why those payments exist, where the money actually comes from, and how First nations people have been cheated time and time again. They won’t bankrupt Canada, but pipeline-buying politicians might.

    • p*******@hotmail.com'
      Heather February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      Time for the people of Canada to have a vote on ‘when we can stop paying for the ‘sins’ of our fathers.
      Lynn Beyak for Prime Minister.

      • m*********@gmail.com'
        michael R. February 20, 2019 at 1:32 am #

        Please so tell when aboriginals here in Canada have lived free of oppression, frauds, abuses, and biases. The “sins” continue to this very second. And if your forefathers engaged in actions that deprived natives of lands, resources, etc; you too must have benefited from those acts.

    • 3******@gmail.com'
      Janice Groves February 20, 2019 at 1:25 am #

      Is Canada happy knowing the nation is built on the Native American lands and has grown wealthy from it while leaving the First Nations in poverty?

    • f**********@gmail.com'
      Fran February 19, 2019 at 11:17 pm #

      Ignorance is not bliss, do your homework before you comment please.

    • m*********@gmail.com'
      michael February 19, 2019 at 11:17 pm #

      Good. Trillions they owe and have kept the Indian Trust fund invested, and the interest it earns alone is much greater than monies paid to ALL aboriginals to date. Its time they pay up. No reason aboriginal people should be living sub standard of other Canadians