Sudbury Accent: Huron-Robinson treaty ruling could spur healing – by Darcy Lindberg (Sudbury Star – February 2, 2019)

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The Canadian Press – There is a tired joke, a standard for Indigenous peoples on the Prairies, regarding the five dollar bill. The bill is sometimes referred to as “treaty money,” and a chuckle is shared when it is exchanged. On the Prairies, five dollars is the annual payment “status-Indians” receive in exchange for the Crown taking up lands and accessing resources, among other things.

By all measures, it is quite a deal for Canada in the present day. For Indigenous peoples, it is an old joke, an annual reminder of sharp and unfair historical dealings among the treaty-making that aided the foundation of Canada.

These jokes can provide some comfort, but the recent decision from the Superior Court of Ontario in Restoule v. Canada provides considerably more relief than these small humours.

The Restoule v. Canada decision, delivered by Justice Patricia Hennessey of Sudbury, ruled that the provincial and federal governments are obligated to increase the annuity as outlined in the original Robinson-Huron Treaty signed in 1850.

The Crown left to its unfettered discretion in interpreting the treaty, has paid four dollars per year to treaty signatories for the past 143 years. This is the case despite an augmentation clause in the treaty that agrees to increase the annuity should government revenues increase.

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