OTTAWA — In a historic moment, the 21 First Nations of the Robinson-Huron Treaty are calling on Canada and Ontario to engage in honorable negotiations to fulfill their treaty obligations.
Representatives of the Robinson-Huron Treaty territories delivered the signed petition to the office of the Governor General of Canada and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The petition calls on the Governments to fully implement the augmentation clause contained in the Treaty, signed in 1850.
“The signing of this petition by all 21 Chiefs of the Robinson Huron First Nations is an extraordinary action,” said Chief Dean Sayers of Batchewana First Nation. “Despite our success in the court, our leadership continues to call on the Crown to uphold their treaty responsibilities via a negotiated settlement as our preferred way of achieving reconciliation.”
In return for the Anishinabek sharing their lands and resources with the Crown, the Crown agreed to pay annuities that were to be augmented as the revenue generated from resources in the territory grew. The annuity amount for Treaty beneficiaries was raised to $4.00 in 1874 and has not changed since.
The Robinson-Huron First Nations created the Robinson-Huron Litigation Fund in 2010 to pursue legal action related to the augmentation of the annuities as set out in the Robinson-Huron Treaty. In 2018, the Ontario Superior Court found that the Crown has a mandatory and reviewable obligation to increase the Treaties’ annuities when the economic circumstances warrant. In 2020, the Court also found that the First Nation plaintiffs’ claims are not barred by Ontario’s limitations legislation and that the Government of Ontario does not benefit from the doctrine of Crown immunity.
Neither Canada nor Ontario has sought to stay the Stage 1 or 2 Judgment of the Superior Court and the Crown has not taken any steps to implement the treaty augmentation promise moving forward.
“We have a unique opportunity in front of us to end the long and drawn-out court proceedings. We hope that Canada and Ontario will recognize this historic moment and come to the table for negotiations,” said Ogimaa Duke Peltier.