The Robinson Huron Treaty Trust – Final Arguments undertaken on Robinson Annuity Treaty Cases.

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Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers.

SUDBURY – 40 members of the Batchewana First Nation travelled to Sudbury Monday, to witness the final arguments for the Robinson Huron Treaty (RHT) Annuity case.

Batchewana is one of the 21 Anishinabek Nations with annuitants under the RHT. The case has been ongoing since September 2017 and centres around the annuity provision of the RHT where the First Nations were promised an increase to their share of revenue from the sale of the natural resources from their lands. The annuity is currently set at $4 per year and has not increased since 1874 from the original amount of $1.60 per person.

Batchewana has always been an advocate of the RHT starting with the ‘Mica Bay incident’, a celebrated story that is still told by the Indigenous Elders and commercial fishers of the First Nation.

It begins in the summer of 1849 where Chiefs Nebenaigoching and Shingwauk, accompanied by fellow leadership, borrowed a cannon (a remnant of the war of 1812) from Sault Ste. Marie and made their way up to the Mica Bay mining location on the shores of Lake Superior.

The action was spurred by the First Nation Chiefs after an incident with the Quebec mining company. It was alleged that the company had illegally established mining operations in violation of the Royal proclamation of 1763 and Indigenous law. The Royal Proclamation set out that the lands in question were in the care and control of the Indigenous people and that in order to develop or extract anything, there needed to be Treaties or agreements in place.

The First Nations leadership utilized the canon and fired one successful volley, stopping the illegal extraction. This incident was the culmination of an ongoing feud between the First Nations and miners in the area and led to the Governor General instructing William Benjamin Robinson (member of the colonial legislature) to begin negotiations and discussions towards a Treaty.

Olaf Bjornaa, an Elder from Batchawana Bay shared his recollections, “As a child and growing up on the lake, my dad would take my brothers and I to the spot where the cannon lays. We could see the cannon by using an old stove pipe and placing it on the top of the water and peering through.” The cannon still sits there today in its final resting place where it was dropped off by the First Nation Chiefs on their return from Mica Bay.

The Mica Bay incident eventually led to the signing of the Robinson Huron and Robinson Superior Treaties of 1850 which led to the settling of the central Great Lakes area including what is now Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Parry Sound, Thunder Bay, and many other towns in between.

Batchewana’s Chief Dean Sayers commented, “Our ancestors along with the 30,000 annuitants/beneficiaries have been waiting for justice to many facets of the treaty relationship. The annuity issue is one. We’re optimistic about the outcomes and look forward to the day when the entire spirit and intent of the Treaty relationship will come to fruition for the benefit of not only the Anishinabek but everyone living on our lands.”

The Annuities trial is scheduled to wrap up by the end of June with a decision expected by December 2018

1 COMMENT

  1. Enough is enough! You have been living in this country tax free since is was founded. You have free education, free medical, and the government gives millions each year to each reserves. That is your annuity! Yet you never seem to have enough. You cry for equality and fair treatment yet your actions say otherwise. If you truly want equality, then start contributing to this country like anyone else. Give up you indian status (keep your beliefs, traditions etc.) and pay taxes, pay for your education, pay for your medical, and instead of continually trying to drive a wedge into this country by trying to be treated as if you are better than everyone or the victim, try working with the rest of the country and unite into an equal force, not divided. We all live in this great country, we have all lost and won in and for this country, we all suffer and we all thrive. We’ve all been victims but we get up and forge ahead. You need to let go of the past and look towards the future as a united, equally beneficial country. Be CANADIAN!

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