Treaties are agreements. The First Nations people of Canada went into negotiated agreements that spelt out the rights, responsibilities and relationships of First Nations and the federal and provincial governments. These agreements were about creating alliances, and often dealt with the sharing of land, resources, and the ability to coexist. They were negotiated in Canada between First Nations and the British Crown as early as 1701. The Canadian government acknowledges 70 historic and 24 modern-day Treaties. These are considered important building blocks of the nation.
This means that Treaties do not involve only the First Nations and the government or the Crown, it also involves everyone past and present. Every Canadian has Treaty rights. If you own property or plan on owning property in Canada, you are exercising a right that goes back to the very first signed Treaties. As newcomers to Canada, learning about Treaties is very important and will help understand a picture of what Canada is. It will help us better appreciate the relationship between the First Nations peoples and the federal and provincial governments. More importantly, it is a big part in understanding the country’s origins and how it developed. Historic and modern-day Treaties continue to be key elements in future relationships between the First Nations and the Crown. There are still modern-day Treaties being negotiated in Canada today. These Treaties concern First Nations traditional territories that were not included in the Treaty-making process.
Assimilation is still a large part of the Canadian society, and understanding Treaties can help us become more aware of economic and societal issues that First Nations peoples are facing. Understanding Treaties is one of the steps that can prevent us from making judgments or biases and become more understanding and motivated members of society.