OPINION: The Ontario treaty deal is a game-changer for Indigenous rights – by Ken Coates (Globe and Mail – June 23, 2023)


Ken Coates is a distinguished fellow and director of Indigenous affairs at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

The $10-billion settlement announced this week between the Robinson-Huron First Nations, Ontario and the federal government signals a tectonic shift in Indigenous-government relations that extends far beyond the large sum awarded in this specific case.

The financial settlement, compensating First Nations in northern Ontario for more than a century of being denied a just portion of revenues generated by development on traditional lands, is a major precedent that will be useful to Indigenous peoples in western Canada.

In 1850, the original Robinson Treaties, Huron and Superior, stated that if governments ever made money off the lands and resources around Lakes Huron and Superior, the First Nations would share in the bounty.

The small initial annuity was less than $2 per First Nations member. In 1874 it increased to $4, and has not changed since. Whenever First Nations demanded greater annuities, they were stonewalled by successive governments, even as the region experienced tremendous growth, seeing populations expand along with forestry operations, mining, tourism, road construction and energy projects.

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-ontario-treaty-deal-is-a-game-changer-for-indigenous-rights/