Treaty 2 Territory – Letter to Canada, Minister Bennett. We appreciate the process of the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self Determination Discussion Tables (RIRSD) to resolve issues between Canada and the Government of First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory (FNT2T).
We found that the central issue of the Treaty not being implemented properly and the issue of lands has not been adequately addressed, nor has this important matter been given sufficient attention. We have determined that this is a very important issue impacting our Anishinaabe people.
The issue we want to put in the forefront is the promise of fertile ‘lands set aside for Indians’ of Treaty 2. These lands have never been set aside for farming reserves for the FNT2T people.
As we enthusiastically deal with the Tables on Governance, Economic Development, Health, Education and Justice, we keep asking ourselves “Governance over what?”
I am including examples of the promise provided by representatives of the Queen:
“The Honorable Adam A. Archibald, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba (1870-72) reported that he spoke to the people at the time of Treaty: “First, Our Great Mother, the Queen, wishes to do justice to all her children alike. She will deal fairly with those of the setting sun, as she would with those of the rising sun.”
”Your Great Mother wishes the good of all races under her sway. She wishes her red children to be happy and contented. She wishes them to live in comfort….to till land and raise food…I drove yesterday through the village below this Fort. There I saw many well-built houses, and many well-tilled fields with wheat and barley and potatoes growing, and giving promise of plenty for the winter to come.”
“Your Great Mother, therefore, will lay aside for you ’lots’ of land to be used by you and your children forever. She will not allow the white man to intrude upon these lots.
“Your Great Mother knows no difference between any of her people. “There will still be plenty of land that is neither tilled nor occupied where you can go and roam and hunt as you have always done, and, if you wish to farm, you will go to your own reserve where you will find a place ready for you to live on and cultivate.”
“Furthermore, the Indians seem to have false ideas of the meaning of a reserve. They have been led to suppose that large tracts of ground were to be set aside for them as hunting grounds, including timberlands, of which they might sell the wood as if they were proprietors of the land.”
The promise of fertile land was never fulfilled. The reserved land within Treaty 2 is at best Class 3 land, incapable of sustaining farming for the people of Treaty 2. I am attaching the land agriculture survey completed for the lands in Treaty 2 territory.
It is clear that the promise of Treaty was not fulfilled and we are committed to addressing this issue first and foremost. With 150 years of the treaty being next year, it would be truly important for us to see our treaty implemented.
There has been a significant policy change to deal with these important issues in negotiation rather than litigation. In order to fulfill that understanding, we are requesting that a Lands Table be established with FNT2T to immediately address this issue.
This issue is not new. I am attaching a letter written to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs Ottawa from Chief Joseph Houle, councillors and members of Ebb & Flow Lake on August 15th,1895. I am also attaching the response from Canada. The letters speak for themselves.
The issue of fertile land has been brought to the attention of Canada numerous times over the years since. It can no longer be delayed or ignored. It is at the heart of the future of our Anishinaabe peoples.
I trust that this fundamental issue will be recognized by you and your government and that Government of FNT2T will be contacted to establish this important table negotiation.
Nothing about us, without us,
Grand Chief Eugene Eastman, Chief O-Chi-Cha-Ko-Sipi Anishinaabe Nation
Government, First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory (FNT2T)
Last modified: October 6, 2020