The 21 First Nations of the Robinson-Huron Treaty welcome the news that the Government of Canada has completed their mandating process and are prepared to negotiate and settle the ongoing annuities case. Canada has stated that the negotiation and settlement process requires participation from the Government of Ontario.
“This is a significant step in the right direction — and one that we have long been waiting for,” said Chief Dean Sayers. “The mandate is clear and we welcome the opportunity to enter conversations with Canada and Ontario to bring this case to an end through a settlement that will benefit everyone in the Robinson-Huron Treaty land.”
Signed in September of 1850, the Robinson-Huron Treaty includes an escalator clause. In return for the Lake Huron Anishinabe sharing their lands and resources with the Crown, the Crown would pay annuities that were to be augmented as resource revenue generated in the territory grew. The annuity amount for Treaty beneficiaries was raised to $4.00 in 1874 and has not changed since.
The Robinson-Huron nations came together in 2012 to pursue legal action related to the Annuities Claim through the Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund. In 2018, the Ontario Superior Court found the Crown has a mandatory and reviewable obligation to increase the Treaties’ annuities when the economic circumstances warrant reflecting a fair share of the value of the net Crown resource-based revenues generated from the territory. In 2020, the Court found that the First Nation plaintiffs’ claims are not barred by Ontario’s limitations legislation and that the Government of Ontario does not benefit from the doctrine of Crown immunity.
While Canada did not appeal the stage 1 and 2 decisions in the case, Ontario has appealed. The appeals were heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in April and June 2021 and the decisions of the Court have not yet been released. The Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund has called on Ontario to drop their litigation and begin honourable negotiations.
“Now, we need the province to come to the table to make this settlement happen,” said Chief Sayers. “It is time for Ontario to honour the escalator clause and engage in negotiations on behalf of all people we have welcomed on our lands.”
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