Friday, September 16, 2011

We are All Treaty People.

There is an Office of the Treaty Commissioner in Saskatchewan, a Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba and similar offices in other territories.  From what I can understand these offices are there to:
The Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM) is a neutral body created through a partnership between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Canada with a mandate to strengthen, rebuild and enhance the Treaty relationship with mutual respect between First Nations and Manitobans.
The TRCM will enhance and maintain positive intergovernmental relations and cooperation, conduct independent research that advances discussion on Treaty related issues, and facilitate public understanding of the importance and role of Treaty making in building a stronger and healthier nation.

If  it were not for the big television commercials, news paper advertisements and bus ads, I don't believe anyone really knew the offices existed.  I am not sure what it exactly the office does, but I think appeasement is the goal?  In any case, there is a product that is quite visible coming out of the TRCM and that is the slogan "We are all Treaty people".  Cool. But what the heck does that mean? I guess it is a campaign to try and get people Treaties?  Not really sure.
The reason I wonder about the whole We Are All Treaty People push is that I just don't get it. The TRCM is a Canadian Government funded entity. I get that. I would suspect that education is part of its mandate. But with the government of Canada, their modus operandi has been to get out of the Treaty business. So why the push for a campaign to draw attention to the Treaties.

Let me put some context on this. Canada does not want to recognize the Treaties to begin with. They are trying to get away from the Treaty obligations they have made with the Native Peoples of Canada. The Treaties  ( "a formal agreement between two or more states in reference to peace, alliance, commerce, or other international relations".) are Agreements between Sovereign Nations. The Canadian Courts have stated that Treaties between Indians and the Canada are sui generis.  They don't want to it to mean that is an Agreement between two States, because its different.  Okay, so its different, but really its not. That is one attempt to get out of the Treaty business, by not recognizing it as a Treaty.

In 1982 Canada altered its Constitution and moved it away from England. Some consider a good thing and others not. In any case its here. The Indians fought hard against the new Constitution, because of the Relationship they had with the Crown (Queen of England). Indians were afraid that Canada would once again burn them. The Canadian Government really wanted to bring the Constitution back home so they made some changes and added a part (Section 24 Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Section 35) where they recognized Aboriginal Rights. Good stuff, right?  I would think so, even if the government did insert that little word: Existing. That puts everything in a tail spin. No one has really defined what Rights exist. Because the government has been reneging on all the Rights to begin with.

With the We are All Treaty People campaign, it does outline something that is true, Canadians do benefit (immensley) from the Treaties. Just look at all the Resources that has made Canada a developed nation. But what about the Indian? Yeah, the "you get everything" arguments have been the wooden bat for the naysayers of Treaty obligations.  Let's not get into that aspect of what the Treaties promises were or the "Spirit and Intent" of the Treaty debate, but let's look at what is taking place.  
Former Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine said it:  "Our treaties were not negotiated and designed to have one party impoverish the other party to the agreement. Sadly and unfortunately that has been our history with respect to our treaties."

The other issue (and what is going on with the Treaty action) I have with the Government and the whole Treaty thing is that they are going about getting rid of Treaty by classifying Indians out of Treaty.  We are not signatories, families or children of Treaty, we are "Status". Status is a classification under the Indian Act as to who is Indian and who is not. The classification is designed to end numbered Indians (get it Numbered Indians). So on the one hand the government affirms and recognizes the Rights of Aboriginal people through Constitution but yet classifies them out with legislation?  What is the message here? Please forgive if I don't understand the whole "We Are All Treaty People" exercise.

If the Treaties were to benefit both Nations, why is it that the Government is actively involved in ending, not fulfilling the Treaties?


  1. My Mother always says:"You can't be friends with a dog that carries rabbies"

  2. well...that's exactly how I feel about treaties.A treaty is always signed by two sides and if the agreement is not being respected= there's no other reason but bad will.Have You ever talked to a narcistic perv?Well,the person usually does everything to destroy You.You catch the perv and say"Hey,it's crazy what You're doing!"The perv will either smile and go on or "excuse",shake hands and go on.Sometimes the cynism of "the other side"reminds me about some "clinical"cases I've witnessed.Donald Marshall Jr.said that "determined systemic racism"had contributed to his wrongful imprisonment.Well,I can't disagree and I think it contributes to non-respect of treaties and a process I call "muffling".All the best to You Steve and Your beautiful family.

  3. Great quote, thanks for the comments.