Who is honouring the Treaties?

Ken Cameron, Calgary, AB wrote:

Interesting site, but what concerns me is you want the Anishinabek to be a Nation with all the treaty rights that have been signed in the past and now you want all the land, timber, mineral water back. Just what part of the treaties do you honour? You want everything and you want someone else to pay for it?

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BOB:  This is such an ignorant and uneducated opinion.  First of all – nobody has said First Nations want anything back.  This is one of those contemporary stereotypes that intolerant people bring about to oversimplify the facts.  We only want the treaties to be implemented and balance out the equitable sharing of treaty benefits.

Back to basis… Treaties are legal documents not ancient texts.  There are two parties to the treaties, the Crown and First Nations.  Each side has responsibilities and legal obligations.  First Nations have given up a lot in the form of land cessions (literally the entire continent, piece by piece), agreement to restrict ourselves to the reserves and placing our full trust into the honour and fiduciary duty of the Crown.  This was our responsibility under the treaty, and, you had better believe First Nations have honoured that to YOUR fullest benefit!!! 

We also know, full well, that the benefits and rights from the treaties were to be shared equitably.  Not equally – but equitably.  Here’s the whole nut farm and all the trees – let’s run this farm together instead of just throwing me a few peanuts now and again, or worse yet, providing me empty shells.

The question is: which party has benefited more from the treaties?  Could it be the Government who obtains billions of dollars in revenue each and every year from natural resource extraction?  This includes… hunting, fishing, mining, tourism, land use, taxation, licensing, user fees, etc.  This has accumulated and grown exponentially over the past 160 years.  We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions of dollars.  Could it be industry, whose accumulated profits since 1850 could not possibly be accurately calculated?  Canada is one of the richest countries in the world.  Where do you think that wealth comes from – your income tax deduction??  No, this has all been derived, either directly or indirectly from the riches of the land.

I get a kick out of the people who think that First Nations are the primary beneficiaries of the treaty.  Despite how much money you tell me that government spends on “aboriginal Canadians” – the truth is that First Nations continue to live in poverty and third world conditions.  This is right in your own backyard.

You may also feel that First Nations are better off, because of the five or six Chiefs out of 630 across Canada who make more than $100,000 in salary.  When you see that, the intolerant types are always up in arms.  (How can an Indian be wealthy?  There must be something wrong.  There must be corruption going on?)  Do you know how much the CEOs and Chairpersons of Bay Street earn.  Some earn this in a single day?

(But you have so much land?) Okay, let’s take a look at land use.  As a result of the “equitable” sharing of the land, First Nations hold less than 2 per cent of land in Canada.  But the minute the Haudensaunee take over one small real estate development, the intolerant types want to call in the Canadian Forces.

I put the question back to you:  have First Nations people honoured the treaties?  Or has the Crown honoured the treaties?

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