OTTAWA – The issue of “Nation-to-Nation” discussions are at the centre of problems when it comes to following the process in treaty matters between Canada and First Nations.
For many Chiefs, the process is ‘Treaty trumps Charter’. The treaties signed between first peoples and the Queen are at the heart of what comes down to jurisdiction and at the point of many issues between First Nations and Canada.
Under the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau putting the relationship with Indigenous people has been a focal point of the Prime Minister’s leadership. It has also placed his government in the often difficult balancing act of honouring the intent of his words and the actions of his government.
Each of those mandate letters state:
“Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.
“There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples”.
“Canada and Ontario know that our treaty-protected rights have been, and continue to be eroded by colonial settler governments stepping outside of the spirit and intent of our nation-to-nation, treaty relationship without a mandate,” said Chief Dean Sayers, spokesperson for the RHW. “The honour of the Crown and our sacred agreements must be upheld.”
There are a number of groups that are or have been in negotiations with Ontario and Canada that are infringing on RHT territory. There has been no consent/permission sought from RHT rights holders.
“We require that all colonial-settler governments respect our unextinguished jurisdictions and further require that all colonial-settler governments obtain our consent/permission. As the underlying title holders to our lands, our consent/permission has not been sought through any of these processes,” said Chief Sayers. “We assert our sovereignty and we cannot have Canada or Ontario negotiating with other groups that infringe on our rights in our territory.”
The RHW issued a resolution today to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario on this issue. The full text of this resolution is attached to this press release.
In a separate process, following traditional protocols, RHW is approaching all neighbouring First Nations and treaty organizations to discuss any overlapping treaty boundary issues and access to shared harvesting territories. The RHW does not recognize Métis in the RH treaty territory as having any land rights.
DRAFT – RESOLUTION OF THE CHIEFS-IN-COUNCIL
TITLE: Treaty Negotiations within the boundary of the Robinson Huron Territory
SUBJECT: RHT Consent/permission Required by both Levels of Government
- We are the Anishinaabek of the Odaawaawi Gichigami and Ojibwe Gichigami (Lake Huron and Lake Superior). We have occupied and exercised authority and jurisdiction over our Nations, our economies and our ways of life within this territory since time immemorial and notably, prior to contact with colonizers or settler governments.
- In 1850, we had entered into the Robinson Huron Treaty to protect the aforementioned authorities and jurisdictions over our Nations.
- The Crown had assured its treaty partner, the Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin (“RHW”) that Canada and Ontario would not diminish our rights, and especially encroachments by other groups created by the colonial settler governments
- We have, and always had, our own governments which is the only recognized and legitimate authority with jurisdiction over all our lands and resources including the air, water, riverbeds and lakebeds.
- We accept the responsibility of exercising this authority and our rights respecting all those things that have been given to us from the Creator to live. This includes, but is not limited to lands, water, air, education, language and culture, jurisdiction, health, citizenship and justice.
- We are committed to the principle of reciprocity by sharing and working together with our Anishinaabek treaty partners to work through any conflicts, with mutual respect for each community, to support one another, establish common goals and most importantly to assert our collective rights within our territory.
- We entered into sacred treaties such as the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850, with the intent of protecting future generations’ minobimaadziwin, wealth, and growth of our Nations.
- At minimum, we clearly stated and had written into the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850 that we shall always have reserved jurisdictions over our full territory. We remain as steadfast as our ancestors were in protecting not only our rights to harvest within the full extent of the territory, but also protecting our underlying title to the land, to a share of resource revenues and to our full inherent rights.
- To date, there has not been any consent/permission sought by either level of the settler governments with the Robinson Huron Treaty Chiefs about the diminishment of Treaty-Protected Rights held into perpetuity.
- It has come to our understanding, and it is abundantly clear, that negotiations are being held about our lands without the involvement of the Robinson Huron Treaty signatories as represented by the Chiefs.
- The duty to obtain consent/permission is required from RHW when the Crown contemplates actions or decisions that may affect our Aboriginal or Treaty rights. The duty to garner consent/permission manifests most often in the context of, but not limited to, natural resource extraction such as mining, forestry, oil, and gas.
- We direct the Crown now represented by Canada and Ontario, to honour the spirit and intent of the sacred Treaty that we solemnized in ceremony, with the insistence of consent/permission from the original 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty-Protected Lands Rights and Title Holders.
- We, the Robinson Huron Treaty Chiefs, have observed these negotiations go forward without our consent/permission.
The Chiefs in Assembly of the ROBINSON HURON WAAWIINDAAMAAGEWIN – Treaty of 1850:
- Direct the colonial settler governments namely Canada and Ontario, to immediately desist from negotiating and settling with other non-RHT organizations and non-RHT First Nations regarding RHT lands, title and rights.
- We direct the colonial settler governments namely Canada and Ontario, to immediately work with the Chiefs of the Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin to obtain our consent/permission before negotiating settlements with other non RHT organizations and First Nations within our Treaty territory
- Further direct the colonial settler governments namely; Canada and Ontario, to respect the unextinguished jurisdictions of the Anishinaabek Nations of the 1850 Robinson Treaty Waawiindaamaagewin.
- Further direct the colonial settler governments namely Canada and Ontario, to recognize the 1850 Treaty signatory Anishinaabek Nations as the only legitimate authority, at minimum, over the air, lands/islands and waters in our collective treaty territory
- Direct that colonial settler governments namely Canada and Ontario, immediately meet with the Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin Chiefs to obtain our consent/permission and respect the exercise of our Inherent and Treaty-Protected rights to, at minimum, land and water, including the lake and riverbeds;