Treaties Recognition Week
Treaties Recognition Week takes place annually during the first week of November and is meant to honour the importance of treaties and raise awareness of treaty rights and treaty relationships that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Ontario.
What are Treaties?
Treaties provide a framework between nations for living together and sharing the land traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples. Initially, treaties between the British or the French and the Indigenous populations were peaceable agreements that represented mutual understanding, sharing, trading or aid. Later, treaties were signed that surrendered land to the Crown, however, the Indigenous people did not understand that land was being “given” away due to language barriers and misinterpretations.The concept of land “ownership” was also culturally unknown to Indigenous people; the land and its resources were intended to be respected and shared by all. That said, modern treaties are still in the process of being negotiated in the province and across the country.
Today in Canada, there are approximately 70 treaties between 371 First Nations and the Crown. The treaties represent the rights of more than 500,000 Indigenous people. Ontario is covered by 46 historic and present- day treaties, which were signed between 1781 and 1930.
Treaties are legally binding agreements that set out the rights, responsibilities and relationships of First Nations and the federal and provincial governments. Ontario would not exist as it is today without treaties. They form the basis of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Although many treaties were signed more than a century ago, treaty commitments are just as valid today as they were then. Treaty rights are protected by subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and often address the creation of reserves for the exclusive use of First Nations, and their rights to hunt, fish and trap on Crownlands.