Unit Six Treaty Process: Purpose, Implementation and Issues

What are the outstanding issues in the Treaty process?

There are many outstanding issues concerning the Treaty process.  Issues such as lands in dispute, education, and self-government (autonomy) just to name a few.

During the time of treaty-making it was promised that there was to be land set aside for the First Nations, but “the lands were either not given or not enough was given” (“We are all treaty people,”2008, pg.  52). The promise was poorly kept and halfway fulfilled.

Another issue is education, most of the general population have little to no knowledge about the treaties. Even though the treaties are a vital part of Canadian history there is reluctance and resist integrating treaty education into the curriculum. There are outcomes and indicators in the Saskatchewan curriculum that touches on the treaties most if not all are within social studies or history. (“We are all treaty people,” 2008, pg. 54-55) But this is the bare minimum.

Educating the general population is not the only issues pertaining to education. In the treaties, the government promised First Nations education. For example, principle condition 7 of Treaty #4 states that “[s]chools to be established on each Reserve” (“TREATY 4,” pg.9).  The First Nations “asked for the introduction of the various forms of education to augment their own education systems.” Instead, First Nations were forced into Residential schools. The suffering First Nations children had to go through has caused harmful effects on the present First Nations community such as intergenerational trauma.

A third issue is the self-government of First Nations. In the 1763 Royal Proclamation, the British Crown (this extended to the future Canadian government) recognized the nationhood of the First Nations. But in 1876 the Indian Act was passed without the consent of the First Nations. The Indian Act is a body of laws that essentially takes away the autonomy of First Nations governance and First Nations self-determination. The act treated First Nations as wards of the state instead of an independent nation. “Although the Indian Act was and is being used to undermine self-government of the First Nations people “[s]elf-government is something that First Nations peoples have always possessed pre-contact and post-contact.” (“We are all treaty people,” 2008, pg. 53)

 How can they be resolved?

These issues and many other issues such as racism, residential schools, prejudice in the criminal justice system, etc. have contributed to First Nations sub-standard living. These issues must be resolved in order to properly kept the treaties and for the well-being of First Nations people and non-indigenous Canadians.

One of the first things is to revigorate the treaty relationship between First Nations and the government and Canadians.

Other things such as the continuous dialogue between Firs Nations and the government, the restoration of First Nations self-government, the education of all Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, on the treaties and First Nations issues.

References

Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (2008). Treaty Essential Learnings: We Are All Treaty People. Saskatoon: Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

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