A flurry of “good-news” announcements has recently come from the Ford government on Indigenous issues, from a $27.5-million investment in Indigenous businesses to a helpful intervention in settling an important transmission line issue in the north.
But do those announcements serve as a smokescreen to cover up what is actually going on behind the scenes in provincial-Indigenous relations? Two weeks ago, Ontario indicated it would be appealing a court decision that would result in a substantial settlement to First Nations people who’ve essentially been ripped off since 1874.
In late January, Ontario announced it intends to appeal the Robinson-Huron Treaty court decision that says the Crown must adjust annuity payments to those governed by the terms of the Treaty, from $4 a year — a payment that has not increased in 145 years — to modern rates.
The 21 First Nations, from Lake Huron to the Quebec border, who signed the Robinson-Huron Treaty have received their annual $4 payment, despite a provision that says the annuity would increase as wealth is generated from the rich resources on the land. The court’s ruling also effects the Robinson-Superior Treaty area, where 57,000 square kilometres along the shores of Lake Superior was taken by the Crown.
Both treaties were signed within days of each other in early September 1850, before the country of Canada was even formed.