Treaty anniversary remembered with traffic slow-down on Highway 17

SERPENT RIVER—Monday, September 9 marks the anniversary of Robinson Huron Treaty signing of 1850. Serpent River First Nation is a signatory of this Pre-Confederation treaty that was signed by Anishinabe across the northern shores of Lake Huron.

To mark this historic day, Serpent River First Nation will be demonstrating on Highway 17 at the Serpent River Trading Post from 10 am to 2 pm. Traffic slow-downs are expected. The chief of the First Nation, Isadore Day, says that if there are any changes, notifications will be issued to the public through local media and to the Ontario Provincial Police.

During the event, media statements will be issued by Serpent River. Education for passer-by travellers will be offered through speeches and pamphlets. The focus of this demonstration is to highlight why honoring the treaty is critical to Canadians.

Chief and council of the Serpent River First Nation say that they have a number of concerns that must be talked about and understood by other governments. They say that many of the challenges their community faces are not in line with the treaties signed with the Crown and that the treaty relationship is a broken relationship and require reconciliation.

“The Indian Act and other ‘Indian’ policy is imposed and has done nothing more than oppress First Nations and forces their communities to administer poverty to their people–not the intent of treaties,” says Chief Isadore Day.

What sparked the signing of the treaty 163 years ago was a mining conflict on Anishinabe lands at Mica Bay. Chiefs and headsmen at that time represented the wishes of their people to share the land only if the settlers made certain promises. Some of those promises in the treaty were that certain reserved lands would be set aside, existing harvesting rights recognized, a continued access to all treaty lands and monetary annuities that were to be indexed based on extraction and use by settlers. Today, First Nations say the Robinson Huron Treaty has not been honoured.

Specific concerns that will be highlighted during the September 9 demonstration have to do with proposals by neighbouring non-First Nation communities to establish a deep repository program for nuclear waste, cottage lot development, outstanding land claims, future mining plans, consultation laws not being respected and the protection of sacred sites.

“There is a list of specific government policy approaches and breaches of the treaty that infringe upon First Nation rights and jurisdiction and pose a risk to the land for future generations,” the chief continued. “We simply cannot allow unjust and neglect of the treaty to continue, further we cannot remain silent while the next generation watches trucks drive by carrying resources that were to be shared while we have no access or while the lands being developed or stripped are damaged beyond reason. We direct this message to all heads of other governments and corporations neglecting the treaty. We must correct the collective path of treaty, or there ceases to be legitimacy of what is referred to as this country called Canada.”