Historic Treaties between the Mi’kmaq people and the British Crown were meant to be based on an ongoing relationship of peace and friendship. The shocking violence and racism that has been directed against Mi’kmaq moderate livelihood fishing in Nova Scotia demonstrate a profound failure of this Treaty relationship.
In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that Crown-Mi’kmaq Treaties protect the Mi’kmaq people’s right to fish and make a living off these traditional livelihoods. The federal and provincial governments have a profound legal and moral obligation to uphold these Treaties. They also have to help ensure that the public – and all public institutions – understand and respect the Treaty relationship.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made multiple Calls to Action addressing the need for Treaty education in various sectors, including public servants and the business sector. CTA #92 calls on the Corporate Sector and their leadership “to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to cooperate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.”
Without understanding the truth of Canada’s history as well as Canada’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, we continue to witness horrific racism and colonial acts of violence, such as those perpetrated against the Mi’kmaq lobster business of the Sipekne’katik First Nation.
Understanding and honouring the Treaties is an essential foundation for truth and reconciliation. We are all Treaty people.
The TRC said that the first principle of Truth and Reconciliation implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The provisions of the UN Declaration affirm and uphold the right of Indigenous peoples to Treaty implementation, economic development, safety, and security. Implementation will help guide Canada, at all levels, in moving forward with reconciliation.
Canada needs to uphold and implement the UN Declaration to ensure that all Indigenous families have the opportunity to live a good life in their culture and have the security to do so.
 CTA 10vii Aboriginal education legislation at a federal level.
CTA 51 Government of Canada has an obligation of transparency when making legal decisions based upon Treaty rights.
CTA 86 Education for journalists, including treaty rights.
CTA 92 Education for business/corporate sector on treaty rights and ensuring that Indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands and resources are upheld.
The NCTR puts out a free, weekly newsletter of curated articles. If you want to keep informed about the path to Reconciliation in Canada - including stories about Residential Schools, impacts of colonialism and acts of resistance and Reconciliation, sign up below! One email to your inbox a week - no spam - and you can cancel any time!