Crown broke 1850 land treaties with First Nations, Ontario Court of Appeal rules – by Sean Fine (Globe and Mail – November 8, 2021)

Ontario’s highest court has ruled that the Crown violated the terms of treaties from 1850 by capping annual payments at a few dollars per person to Indigenous peoples who ceded a vast area of the northern part of the province.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a yet-to-be determined amount of compensation that could be in the billions of dollars, and that could come from Ontario, the federal government, or both.

Under the terms of the treaties, the Crown has been paying 23 First Nations just $4 per year for each of their members, in exchange for resource-rich territory the size of France. The land is located on the north shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, and it stretches as far north as Hudson Bay.

The annual payment has not increased since 1875. In 1850, an initial lump sum of a few thousand dollars was also paid to the communities involved. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled 5-0 on Friday that the minuscule continuing payments violated the treaties’ promise to share the resource wealth from the territory, and sent the case back to the trial judge for the next phase:

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