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Indigenous Awareness (Part 3): The Importance of Treaties

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

If you or your organization is planning on engaging with First Nation communities, there is a certain code of conduct you need to understand and information you must know before you proceed. Read more below

Engaging with First Nation communities requires a certain amount of knowledge including political structures, customs, traditions and history.

When it comes to establishing positive relations with First Nation Communities you need to understand some of the history between the Crown and the community. This includes a basic understanding of treaties.

Treaties (Merriam-Webster) are defined as:

"A contract in writing between two or more political authorities (such as states or sovereigns) formally signed by representatives duly authorized and usually ratified by the

lawmaking authority of the state"

Please remember, an Indigenous territory is a sovereign territory and should be treated as such. This includes understanding the Treaty obligations the Crown has with the Indigenous Territory you wish to engage with. Doing so will further your understanding and improve your interactions while setting a positive tone with the First Nations community.

Below is a quick overview of the important of Treaties with First Nations communities.

If you have any questions or need someone to talk with regarding your Indigenous engagement and awareness activities, please give us a call at (705) 657-1126 or by email: (See Indigenous Awareness Training Parts 1 and Indigenous Awareness Training Part 2 for the more valuable First Nations awareness training)

Chi Miigwetch!

The Beginning!

• The start of the treaties...The Treaty of Paris 1763

• The Seven Years' War (1756 - 63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea.

• In the Americas, imperial rivals Britain and France and Spain struggled for supremacy.

• Each of the three Nations were trying to colonize the New World to their benefit.

• Under the terms of that Treaty , all of New France (Quebec) was ceded to Britain by France

Royal Proclamation of 1763

• King George III of Great Britain

• Heavily in debt from the Seven years War,

• Wanted to avoid fighting with the “Indians” and issued a Proclamation:

• reserving lands west of the Appalachian Mountains for the Indians the temporary western boundary for all Colonies (Quebec being one of them).

• Colonial Governors were forbidden to grant land for settling in the reserved lands without permission of the King.

Pre Confederation Treaties

• From 1782 1856, The King’s representatives (The Crown) treated with the Williams Treaties First Nations.

• The Treaties were Treaties of Peace Not Conquest

• The treaties gave up “aboriginal title”.

• Aboriginal title: Indigenous people had the right to use and occupy the land that they inhabited

• Verbal understandings defined, among other things, the respective rights of the parties to use and enjoy lands traditionally occupied by the Williams Treaties

First Nations.

British North America Act (BNA) 1867

• Canada’s first Constitution created the federal government

• Section 91(24) provided exclusive federal legislative authority in relation to “Indians and lands reserved for Indians”

Canada’s Treaty Precedents

• Gratuities

• Reserve lands

• Annuity

• School/annual maintenance and teacher salaries

Why Spend This Time on Understanding Treaties?

• The indigenous position is based in negotiated, not in a perceived right of the Indigenous community.

• The consequences of the historical and contemporary implications of treaties impact development, environment and social issues today.

• If you don’t have this basic knowledge in this region of Canada when working with or communicating formally with Indigenous communities, you are lacking a key piece of


• If you leave this area, your knowledge of the treaties and their impacts is a necessary piece of research.

• Your perception of the Indigenous world affects your relationships with your Indigenous counterparts.

This is a very brief overview of Indigenous Treaties in Canada. For a more detailed look into the Treaties between the Crown and Ontario First Nations, please see this presentation here: Treaties 101. The CIPS guide on understanding Indigenous Treaties in Ontario

To gain more awareness insight, see Indigenous Awareness Training Parts 1 and Indigenous Awareness Training Part 2 for the more valuable First Nations awareness training.

To find out how we can help you with your Indigenous Awareness and Engagement activities, please see our web page Indigenous Engagement Training or contact us at: (705) 657-1126 (Email):

To set up a short 15 minute consultation with our CEO, Mike Jacobs, please see this page here. Chi Miigwetch (thank you) and good luck!

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