Forty thousand members of 23 First Nations communities in Northern Ontario have been receiving $4 a person each year from the Crown for ceding rights over a resource-rich territory about the size of France under 1850 treaties.
The Indigenous groups filed a court challenge against the Crown, saying the $4 annuity did not reflect the spirit of the treaties. And now a judge – after an exhaustive examination of the history of the treaties – has ruled that the signatories intended that the annuities should grow to allow the First Nations to share the growth in revenues governments receive from resource companies in the territory.
Wiikwemkoong Chief Duke Peltier, who was involved in the case, said the ruling shows that the courts are pushing government to “place our people back to the way we once were, that is as true partners in the development of this country, living together in harmony.” He described the $4 annuity as barely enough to buy a coffee in Toronto.
His community has high unemployment and social problems, he said, while mining, forestry and land-leasing businesses thrive. The Canadian government had argued that the courts have no authority to review the agreements. It said the Crown had sole discretion over whether to increase the payments, and did not have to disclose resource revenues, or consult Indigenous communities.
The Ontario government went further, saying the agreements capped the annuity at $4, although it said the figure should be adjusted for inflation. (Because the treaties were signed before Confederation, both governments represented the Crown.)
For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-court-ruling-to-grant-first-nations-a-much-bigger-cut-of-resources/