Robinson-Huron Treaty members call on Canada to honour treaties

ROBINSON-HURON – The 21 First Nations in the Robinson-Huron Treaty are calling on the Canadian government to uphold its treaty obligations to the Mi’kmaq and the Lake Huron Anishinaabe.

“Across the country, we’re seeing what happens when Canada fails to live up to their treaty obligations, and the effect this has on peaceful and respectful co-existence with First Nations,” Ogimaa Duke Peltier of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory said in a release.

“We are asking the government to do what is legally required of them, as proven by two court decisions, and to give us our fair share as required by the treaty,” said Ogimaa Peltier.

The call from the 21 First Nations came at the start of Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario and follows a letter the group sent last week to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighting the ongoing failure of Canada to uphold the Robinson-Huron Treaty. 

The letter explains that Canada has failed to honour the treaty right to increased annuities based on a fair share of resource development in Robinson-Huron territory, and uphold the judgement of Justice Hennessey in regards to the Robinson-Huron Treaty Annuities Case.

This past June, Justice Hennessey ruled that the Crown has an obligation to increase treaty annuities when economic circumstances warrant it.

The action was in response to the Crown’s failure to honour promises made in its longstanding treaty relationship with the Lake Huron Anishinaabe that dates back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

The letter also voices their support of Mi’kmaq people who are fighting to exercise their treaty rights to a moderate living including fishing, which were confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1999, the release continues.

“We’ve never given up jurisdiction over our lands and waters,” said Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation, in the release. “The treaty outlines a framework for peaceful co-existence that respects our inherent rights as Anishinaabe people. We have respected the treaty relationship; now Canada must uphold its side of the agreement.”

Phase 3 of the annuity case is set to begin in September 2021, the release notes. It will examine issues of compensation and how to restore the ongoing treaty relationship.