10 things Canadians should know about the Treaties

  1. If you are a Canadian, know you are a signatory to a Treaty. If you are a settler or new Canadian (i.e. non-Indigenous), know you are a benefactor of the Treaty.
  2. Read the Treaty. Know which Treaty territory you are on. That is the true Canadian history.
  3. Know that the Treaty it’s not just an Indigenous peoples agreement. Treaties are solemn agreements between people. We are all Treaty peoples. Know that treaties are the foundation of Canada.
  4. The Treaty is a reciprocal treaty, an equal treaty for co-existence. It was an agreement between the British Crown and Indigenous peoples. First Nations leaders believed they were entering into a trust relationship with the representative of the British Crown. They considered the Treaty a mutual trust agreement to live in peace.
  5. Non-native people are benefactors of those treaties because they are receiving the benefits and profits of the resources from native land immediately after the signing of Treaties. There are billions of dollars coming out of traditional territories, and it never stays in the territory. These real costs of resource extraction, in turn, are borne by the people and communities who have lived here all along. Today, most that are living on reserves are living in extreme poverty.
  6. First Nations never violated the treaty. The Treaty is a sacred promise that was made with the Creator and cannot be taken back. This is the foundation that the Treaty cannot be “thrown out” or reneged on. “For as long as the grass grows, the rivers flow and the sun shines.”
  7. First Nations have never surrendered their land. Assurances were made by the Crown that land and resource use by the Indigenous peoples would continue, and that the use of land for settlers would be limited to agriculture. From a quote of Treaty 6 “the government said that we would live together, that I am not here to take away what you have now…I am here to borrow the land…to the depth of a plough…that is how much I want.”
  8. The federal government has a fiduciary responsibility with First Nations who entered into Treaty. In plain terms, it’s similar to the responsibility that a corporation has to its shareholders. The Canadian government’s shareholders are First Nations and it has a duty, a legal responsibility to them. For allowing settlers to live among the Indigenous inhabitants, the Treaty was to ensure peace and goodwill between Indigenous people and the Crown, in exchange for the Queen’s “bounty and benevolence.”
  9. When reading the Treaty, you’ll never come across the word “ownership”, because no one can own the land. The land owns its inhabitants. The Indigenous people were given the sacred responsibility as caretakers of the land. At no point that the parties of treaty discussed the concepts of land surrender or sale.
  10. According to the Treaty, First Nations will always have a right to the land to hunt, fish and forage and the Treaty and Aboriginal Right is further protected under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. As long as industrial development continues to take place on these lands without consent, these Constitutional rights are being violated.


To learn more about the importance of Treaties, please read the following link: