Ontario court decision sets precedent for First Nations – by Doug Cuthand (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – December 28, 2019)


An Ontario judge’s decision that treaty annuities must be increased to reflect resource revenue taken from treaty territory promises to be a hot topic, writes Doug Cuthand

Christmas came early in Indian Country. In a landmark decision, a judge in Thunder Bay has ruled that the treaties are living documents and annuities must be increased to reflect the resource revenue taken from the treaty territory.

The judge’s decision was delivered in Thunder Bay on Dec. 21 and has been barely covered by the media. However, it promises to be a hot topic as the year progresses and the far-reaching effect starts to sink in.

Earlier this year, the 21 First Nations that were the signatories of the Robinson Huron Treaty took the federal government to court to have the annual annuities of $4 evaluated and updated to reflect the increase in resource revenues over the years.

The Robinson Huron Treaty was signed in 1850 and transferred 37,500 square miles to the Crown. Among other promises, the Crown’s representatives stated that the annuity payments of $4 would be augmented based on the productivity of the treaty territory.

The precedents established in this case are groundbreaking and confirm what our elders and leaders have been stating for years. First, the court ruled that the treaties were not a simple one-time transaction but living documents that will grow and change with time. Our elders often refer to the spirit and the intent of our treaties, which refers to updating the treaty promises to reflect advances in technology and the economy.

For the rest of this column: https://thestarphoenix.com/opinion/columnists/cuthand-ontario-court-decision-sets-precedent-for-first-nations

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