(Shawanaga First Nation): ‘Renewing our Relations’ is this year’s theme for the annual Robinson Huron Treaty gathering.
The gathering is being held close to the southern border of the Robinson Huron Treaty territory in Shawanaga First Nation from September 21 – 23rd, 2018. It’s being hosted by Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nations. It’s an important gathering to Anishinabek as they will receive updates on the annuities court case, teachings on the treaty, Anishinabe law and wampum belts along with other important teachings.
Shawanaga First Nation Chief Wayne Pamajewon thinks treaty awareness and education is important for everyone to learn. He says, “There are people all around on us treaty lands, municipalities, reeves, mayors of cities and towns and I don’t believe they have any idea what a treaty is all about.”
Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers agrees, he says, “Cross cultural awareness and education is centrifugal to a successful reconciliation-based relationship between all the People that are here on our lands. We hope that Canadians and First Nations People attend our gathering where unique information will be provided that you might not here in history books, or in the mainstream educational system. Everyone is welcome to join us at this sacred ceremonial learning opportunity. We are all Treaty People.”
And Pamajewon adds, “If it was passed on from the forefront and passed on to outsiders, they would clearly understand how we feel about the Land, the water, the environment, the air, all of these things that are really important and why we consider ourselves as caretakers of the Land.”
Treaty 3 Elder Fred Kelly will be speaking at the RHT gathering. Elder Kelly was an expert witness in the annuities court case and presented on Anishinaabe law. Other presenters include youth Autumn Peltier of Wikwemikoong. Peltier, a water warrior, spoke to the United Nations this past spring and told the assembly to ‘warrior up’ and look after the water.
The 21 Anishinabek communities with annuitants under the RHT took the federal and provincial governments to court to uphold the augmentation clause contained in the 1850 treaty. RHT beneficiaries have not received an increase to the four-dollar annuity since 1874. The Anishinabek territory contained within the Robinson Huron Treaty territory includes about 35,700 square miles of land on the northern shores of Lake Huron.
The RHT annuities court case began in September 2017 in Thunder Bay and travelled throughout the Robinson territory. Hearings were held in Garden River First Nation, Cutler, and Sudbury. Hearings wrapped up June 22nd in Sudbury. RHT Chiefs are hoping for a favourable decision.
Wikwemikoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier says, ““The leadership of the Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations understand that the written text of the 1850 Treaty expresses only the government of Canada’s view of our treaty relationship. The written versions of treaties are required by law that the Anishinaabe understanding of their respective Treaty must be considered when interpreting the terms as agreed to. We know that the Courts are considering our viewpoints through the Annuities court case currently and expect that a positive ruling in the near future.“