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Robinson Huron Treaty Leadership, Ontario and Canada announce proposed settlement and next steps in Treaty annuities court case

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Chiefs and dignitaries at the Robinson Huron Treaty annuities settlement announcement on June 17, 2023 in Sudbury. – Photo by Marci Becking

ROBINSON HURON TREATY TERRITORY, ON June 17, 2023 – Today, the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund leadership and representatives of the governments of Canada and Ontario attended a ceremony and announced a proposed out-of-court settlement in the outstanding litigation around the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty. Negotiators for the parties have reached a proposed settlement that includes $5 billion from both Canada and Ontario, for a total settlement of $10 billion for past losses. This is a major milestone in ongoing collaborative work to renew the Treaty relationship and honour a treaty promise that dates back to 1850.

The 21 Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have litigation against Canada and Ontario for breach of Treaty. The First Nations claim that under the Robinson Huron Treaty, the collective annuity to the First Nations and beneficiaries should have increased over time as resource revenues within the Treaty territory increased. The annuity increased only once, rising from approximately $1.70 per person to $4 per person in 1875, and hasn’t increased since.

Canada, Ontario and the 21 Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have been working together at the negotiation table to find common ground for resolving these matters outside of the courts since April 2022.

The proposed settlement is an opportunity for Canada and Ontario to provide compensation to address past claims and to honour their Treaty obligations and will support the Robinson Huron First Nations to invest in a brighter future for their communities and grow the local economies in the Treaty territory.

As the next step, the First Nations are moving forward with a community engagement process, including consultations with First Nation members and beneficiaries to provide accurate information about the proposed settlement. These sessions will be led by the Honourable Harry S. LaForme in the Office of Mizhinawe for the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations. Based on the information sessions, the Mizhinawe will prepare a report and recommendations for the Robinson Huron Chiefs and Trustees within the next six to eight months.

Quotes

“In 2012, 21 First Nations in the Robinson Huron Treaty Territory came together to hold the governments of Canada and Ontario accountable through the courts, but we know reconciliation cannot be achieved in the courtroom. Canada and Ontario heard us and met us at the negotiation table to make this proposed settlement a reality.”

Spokesperson Duke Peltier
Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory

“We have been calling on Canada and Ontario to honour the commitments they made in the Treaty for the last 170 years. Our communities have struggled economically, culturally, and socially because of this breach of Treaty. The compensation from this settlement will ensure a stronger and brighter future for our People and our Nations.  The Treaty provides a framework for peaceful coexistence and sharing of resources. We see this settlement as an opportunity to show the commitment of both Canada and Ontario to respect and implement our rights affirmed in the Treaty.”

Chief Dean Sayers,
Batchewana First Nation

“I would like to offer my congratulations to the people of the Robinson Huron Treaty on having reached this historic settlement. While there is still work to be done, today’s announcement reflects the efforts made over many years to ensure the collective treaty rights of the Anishinabe people of the 21 Robinson Huron First Nations are finally acknowledged and respected. My team and I are looking forward to visiting the communities in the coming weeks to share information about the settlement and hear directly from the members about how they want to see the terms of the settlement implemented in a way that will strengthen their communities today and for future generations of Anishinaabe people.”

Hon. Harry LaForme,
Office of the Mizhinawe for Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund

“The proposed settlement is long overdue. For over a century, the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations have asked Canada to address broken promises, and work on building trust. This is an important opportunity to deliver on an unfulfilled treaty promise and pay an outstanding debt to the First Nations that dates back to 1850. We look forward to advancing this important work together toward shared solutions that address past wrongs and strengthen our treaty relationship for the future.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

“Today’s announcement of a proposed settlement is an important step in settling historic annuities through respectful and meaningful negotiations. Ontario is committed to renewing this important treaty relationship, and we would like to thank everyone involved as we continue to advance reconciliation and prosperity for Indigenous peoples.”

The Honourable Greg Rickford
Minister of Indigenous Affairs
Government of Ontario

Quick facts

In 2014, the First Nations filed litigation relating to Treaty annuities against the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
In 2018, the Ontario Superior Court found that the Crown is obligated to increase the annuities provided under the Robinson Treaties to reflect the net revenue the Crown receives from resources harvested in the Treaty territory.
The proposed settlement announced today is focused only on the resolution of claims related to past annuities.
Much work remains to be done before this proposed settlement can be concluded. This includes the consultation process with First Nation members and beneficiaries led by the Office of the Mizhinawe.
The governments of Canada and Ontario will also need to complete their own internal review processes to seek approval to sign the proposed settlement.
The proposed settlement will not be final until it is approved by all parties and the claim for past compensation has been discontinued on consent of the parties and by order of the Ontario Superior Court.
The parties look forward to continuing to work together toward shared solutions for the benefit of First Nations communities and all Canadians. This includes exploring forward-looking arrangements on Treaty annuities.

Associated Links

Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund
Litigation Document Archive 
Office of the Mizhinawe

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