The Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations Remain Unyielding Their Rights:
To manage and protect our inherent rights, sovereign rights and responsibilities as caretakers, protectors and stewards of our Nations’ ecosystems and all within it; and
To assert our absolute power and authority to grant permission when and where appropriate about development, exploitation or proposals that we feel will impact our ecosystems, rights and interests; and
To protect our absolute right to make laws in our traditional territories that govern our Nations, our lives and our ecosystem and all who seek to enter our territories for any reason; and
To maintain our inherent rights to engage, discuss, negotiate and grant permission to any nation or corporation or individual that we feel will enhance any and all opportunities and circumstances for our Nations, within our territories.
…and further to allow said Chiefs and their Tribes the full and free privilege to hunt over the territory now ceded by them and to fish in the waters thereof, they have been in the habit of doing…. (Robinson Huron Treaty 1850)
The Anishnaabe communities of the Robinson Huron Treaty 1850 reaffirm their commitment moving forward to develop a strong common voice on Treaty Rights and Anishnaabe laws and Renewing the Treaty Relationship with the Crown -through the formation of the RHTC.
We as Anishnaabe First Nations of Turtle Island (North America) recognize we have a unique relationship with our relations and partners with the same common interest to work collaboratively to support and empower our citizens. Our approach will allow for informed and fulsome engagement with the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin First Nation communities, towards building a solid foundation based on traditional values, views and Anishnaabe Law. It is essential to continue with this important work and to get it right; it’s time to turn the page and to advance change and Treaty Renewal Relationships.
There is a convergence on now to Renew Treaty Relationships. The Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin wants to start that dialogue which requires tremendous input and guidance from the Robinson Huron Treaty communities.
The purpose of this formation of the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin will be to assist and guide in the development of an honourable, respectful relationship between Crown and the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations. This will establish a foundation to work towards a future that moves the Treaty Relationships forward.
The Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin will be a resource for the 16 Signatory First Nation communities and potentially the 5 non- Signatory First Nation communities that will assist in preparing, developing and co-ordinating activity to renew the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations and Crown relationship pursuant to the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850.
The Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin proposes to continue with the framework of “Treaty Partners Relationship Principles” which shall be advanced by mutual agreement. The principles will be developed upon the initial relationship.
“The truth is that Canada’s formation does not just rest on racism, force, and discrimination. Canada is also rooted in doctrines of persuasion, reason, peace, friendship and respect.” John Borrows and Michael Coyle
As stated in Canada’s February 14th, 2018 announcement of “Principles Regarding the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples” is opportune.
The “Principles Regarding the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples” are a bold initiative, which will take a dramatic move within the government and within the First Nations. These Principles are a starting point to support efforts …. the Government of Canada acknowledges that strong Indigenous cultural traditions and customs, including languages, are fundamental to rebuilding indigenous nations”.
Building relationships requires trust, honesty, communication and connection. Following similar paths and having a mutual understanding and partnership will build the foundation towards strengthening and renewing the Relationship between the Robinson Huron Treaty communities and the Crown.
“…further promises and agrees, that should the Territory ceded by the parties of the second part at any future period produce such an amount as will enable the Government of this Province, without incurring loss, to increase the annuity hereby secured by them, then and in that case shall be augmented from time to time…..” (Robinson Huron Treaty 1850)
The Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have existed since time immemorial and have a historic relationship with the British Crown based upon co-operation. The past shows a vibrant, economic and prosperous communities that had a solid economic foundation. The fur trade was the initial driving force, which turned to accessing other resources including timber, minerals, fisheries, agriculture and use of our military powers. Immigration happened throughout the relationship and continues to the present.
In order to discover the lost respect and honour, part of the answer is the revitalization and renewal of the Robinson Huron Treaty and Crown Relationship and to treat as a living, changing, adjusting & evolving relationship. What needs to be understood and appreciated is that Anishnaabe Nations are Sovereign Nations with Laws and are not a product of Treaties of British or Canadian Governments. The Signatories of 1850 retain their Sovereign Rights and Responsibilities.
The Relationship between the British Crown and the and the First Nations of Canada evolved from the Covenant Chain dating back to the 1600’s, the Treaty of Niagara, Royal Proclamation 1763 and The Robinson Huron Treaty signed September 9, 1850. History includes the effects of the Doctrine of Discovery, combined with the terra nullius concept. Unfortunately, it has been very negative for the Robinson Huron Treaty communities.
We can recognize that the doctrine of discovery is controversial; it does not enjoy universal acceptance. A royal commission called it “legally, morally and factually wrong.” The Supreme Court of Canada has written that the doctrine of terra nullius (that no one owned the land prior to European assertion of sovereignty) never applied in Canada.
See report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People: Looking Forward and Looking Back. Col.1 (Ottawa: Supply Services Canada. 1996) at recommendation 1.16.2 at page 696:
Federal, provincial and territorial government further the process of renewal by (a) acknowledging that concepts such as terra nullius and the doctrine of discovery are factual, legally and morally wrong.
While there have been historic allies, the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have not been conquered by the Canadian government, nor has there been a relinquishing of their sovereignty.
In 1764 approximately 1,700 Indigenous peoples gathered for a Diplomatic exercise where the British Crown sought to renew and strengthen the Covenant Chain of the 1600’s. The Covenant Chain was an alliance between Indigenous Nations and British Crown. It was a symbolic ship tied to tree, first with a rope (alliance of equals) than iron chain (strength). It is a metaphor – if one party in need “tug on rope” signal something was amiss. British Crown tugged the rope in War 1812, Anishnaabe First Nations fought with the British against the United States. 1849 Chief Shingwaukonse and Chief Tagawinini awarded medals for War of 1812, both Signatories to the Robinson Huron Treaty 1850.
The Indian Act has changed everything. Identity is determined by this unilaterally imposed legislation. Nothing has gone untouched including land holdings, governance structures, spirituality, economies, health and education. The process to heal these transgressions is very demanding and time consuming. Building capacity is part of rebuilding the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations governance and structures. The mere actions of transforming out of the patronizing legislation is a major issue.
1. Protect, enhance and emphasize the continued use of;
a. our Anishnaabemowin language,
b. our culture,
c. our traditions and
d. our spiritual values
2. Transcribe the Robinson Huron Treaty, relationship in Anishinaabemowin, thereby creating the true representation, of what our ancestors understood and agreed to, while ensuring the original Treaty promises and understanding are implemented and recognized.
3. To develop the Alliance as a recognized Anishnaabe entity that does not need to be a product of Canadian legislation.
a. This step in recognition of the sovereignty
b. The Treaty Alliance requires a treaty, perhaps wampum belt,
recognizing the Anishnaabe member Nations and their covenant.
c. The concept is similar to the United Nations model in which each member Nation maintains its individual sovereignty while the secretariat speaks on common issues and is a general advocate.
4. Develop and design a framework that adheres to Rights in the INTRODUCTION and that enables the ability;
a. To design and develop a body that will be built upon a common vision, common thinking, agreement of the heart and mind:
i. It is expected that the Robinson Huron Treaty signatories will utilize their connection with the sacred land and universe, to build on their legacy, identity and relationships;
ii. Walk the talk by creating a Vehicle (Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin) that speaks and advocates for the common interests and provides a resource to the respective Robinson Huron Treaty First Nation communities.
b. To re-affirm the understanding and implement the intentions to reconciliation and renewal of the Treaty Relationships and to assert Aboriginal and Treaty Rights based upon recognition, enforcement and partnership.
c. To design and develop a community engagement process that promotes understanding
d. To enable the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.
5. Coordinate and plan the development of a political, strategic plan and the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of such a plan that protects Aboriginal and Treaty Rights to all the ecosystem and all within.
6. Identify the areas that Political Territorial Organizations (PTOs) will advance on behalf of the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations and establish an effective communication process that will support that relationship.
7. Monitor entire ecosystem held and be aware of and coordinate policy issues, discussion and development by way of developing an Information Management Tool utilizing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapping for the entire Treaty Boundaries, through research and data collection.
8. Promote and educate our First Nations community members on Treaties, Anishnaabe Law, sovereign rights and obligations as Anishnaabe people.
9. Engage with any domestic or foreign governments or companies or individuals that wish to develop the resources within The Robinson Huron Treaty’s ecosystem Territory.
10. Foster federal, provincial and international relations that will benefit the well- being and way of life of the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nation communities.
The Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin will be a resource for the 16 Signatory First Nation communities and potentially the 4 non- Signatory First Nation communities that will assist in preparing, developing and co-ordinating activity to renew the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations and Crown relationship pursuant to the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850.
While the position has been stated since 2015, we welcome the Prime Minister’s Valentine’s Day announcement of the “Principles Regarding the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples”.
Canada’s commitment to “achieving reconciliation with Indigenous people through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights. Respect, co-operation and partnership as the foundation for trans- formative change” is admirable. This proposal wants to put the “pedal to the metal”, so to speak.
An integral component is the building capacity in the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nation communities to improve the understanding and appreciation of Anishnaabe Law, Treaty and Aboriginal Rights and Responsibilities. Sadly, the trials and tribulations of Anishnaabe reality has been centred upon survival. The Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin will be focussed on rebuilding community capacity, in order to develop informed decisions. Part of this approach will be educating our communities on the Anishnaabe Law and Treaty and Aboriginal Rights, including the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and section 35 implementation approaches.
In addition, unilaterally imposed legislation, such as the Indian Act has replaced and interfered with traditional governance, laws, language and way of life. The Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations want and need to re-examine their own governance systems and laws. There will be a transition period.
1. Developing a common vision and a common purpose:
i. Since the signing of the treaty, the First Nations have been the targets of divide and conquer tactics. There are several attempts at assimilation. In the last few years the Chiefs have been developing a more unified approach to deal with this situation. One result has been the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuities court case win in December 2108. The Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin will assist in the rebuilding of unification of a common vision.
2. Capacity and advocacy building:
i. The beneficiaries of the Robinson Huron Treaty need to be revitalized about the treaty. An understanding of their rights and responsibilities is imperative, to be able to give, their respective leaders, the direction and support to solidify the common vision and purpose.
ii. Develop a dispute resolution body that is mutually agreed upon
3. Recognize, Protect, enforce Treaty rights, Aboriginal rights:
i. Recognition is integral to the overall success of the endeavour. Recognition needs to be internal to the communities, external to the Crown and the Canadian peoples in general.
ii. Simply the Treaty and indigenous rights need protection. Our communities and need to put into place protective practices that allow for the continuation and growth of the Treaty.
iii. Enforcement, protection and recognition go hand in hand with the rights and responsibilities of the treaties.
4. Develop and maintain the living relationship with the Crown
i. The relationship needs to be revived and renewed
ii. The relationship is alive and needs to be nourished and respected.
5. Develop current principles of Treaty partners
6. Developing protocols with the First Nations and the Crown
i. Protocols will be developed to enable meaningful dialogue and action to
7. Clearing house/library of resources
i. Our communities need a method to collect, preserve and share the information that will be gathered.