From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Treaty 9 and the duty to seek consent

Thanks to Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike Treaty 9 or the James Bay Treaty has been in the news lately so perhaps it is time to look at just what it says in regard to government's duty to seek consent.

 Signed in November of 1905, Treaty 9 is an agreement between the Tribes of the area, the province of Ontario, the federal government and the Crown. The purpose of which was to facilitate the development of the north while protecting the natives right to " to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered" and the creation of Reserves where  said “reserves were set apart for them in order that they might have a tract in which they could not be molested, and where no white man would have any claims without the consent of their tribe and of the government.”

As to the duty of the Crown through the government of Canada to seek the consent of the effected Bands, clause six of the treaty seems pretty clear and serves to back up Chief Spence's claims.

Clause six of the treaty;
Provided, however, that His Majesty reserves the right to deal with any settlers within the bounds of any lands reserved for any band as He may see fit; and also that the aforesaid reserves of land, or any interest therein, may be sold or otherwise disposed of by His Majesty's government for the use and benefit of the said Indians entitled thereto, with their consent first had and obtained; but in no wise shall the said Indians, or any of them, be entitled to sell or otherwise alienate any of the lands allotted to them as reserves.

 It is further agreed between His said Majesty and His Indian subjects that such portions of the reserves and lands above indicated as may at any time be required for public works, buildings, railways, or roads of whatsoever nature may be appropriated for that purpose by His Majesty's government of the Dominion of Canada, due compensation being made to the Indians for the value of improvements thereon, and an equivalent in land, money or other consideration for the area of the reserve so appropriated.

 So as clause six and other parts of the text of Treaty 9 point out not only should the Band 's consent be sought but that they should also be appropriately compensated, neither of which is happening.

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