Who are the Treaty One First Nations?
The Treaty One First Nations are:
- Long Plain
- Swan Lake
- Sandy Bay
What is the Treaty One Declaration?
The Treaty One Declaration was signed by the leaders of Treaty One Nations on the occasion of the 146th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1 (in 1871) at Lower Fort Garry on May 23, 2017. It declares Treaty One Nations a “united voice” committed to the advancement and recognition of “outstanding treaty obligations, consultation and accommodation” in all matters including resource development. It announces the birth of a political movement and nation with a government to act and speak on behalf of member First Nations and people. Since signing the Declaration, Treaty One chiefs have met on a regular basis to consider and decide the future of the nation and peoples, even while a governance structure is evolving.
What is the Treaty One Nation?
Leaders of Treaty One retain a right of self-determination as leaders of their “peoples” or First Nations and retain the power to freely determine their social and political structures and associations. The government of the Treaty One Nation are the leaders of the member First Nations. To assuage contractual and funding arrangements, the Treaty One chiefs are incorporated as a charitable organization with a board of directors comprised of the chiefs.
How did Treaty One nation come about?
On July 18, 2008, the Treaty One chiefs gathered at Peguis Treaty Days to consider ways and means of asserting their Treaty rights more aggressively and strategically than had been attempted to date. Some of the Chiefs felt that the treaties are a more appropriate framework for cooperation and political activity than tribal councils or individual First Nations. The common thread in the discussions was that Treaty rights form a bedrock of constitutionally recognized rights that are evolving rapidly in the courts to support Indigenous assertions pertaining to traditional territory, sovereignty and culture. A catalyst in the discussions to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty and lands was the looming federal plans for pipeline projects that would cross into the heart of Treaty One traditional territory in southern Manitoba. Over the next several years, pipelines, outstanding treaty land entitlements and, eventually, the Kapyong Barracks legal battle, served to solidify the concept and the necessity of a united front under Treaty One . This led to the signing of the political declaration of the Treaty One Nation in May, 2017.
Why are the Treaties important?
The Treaties remain a cornerstone of the world view of First Nations. Among other things, they confirm the political and sovereign status of the First Nations who signed them as “peoples” or “nations” who have rights of self-determination and other attributes that are declared in various instruments of international law. Within First Nations, there is a growing realization that treaty rights can and should be asserted more strategically in the struggle of indigenous people for justice and self-sufficiency in Canada. The constitutional recognition of aboriginal and Treaty rights in 1982 provided a new legal framework within which longstanding Aboriginal and Treaty issues might be addressed. The Supreme Court has ruled in case after case that section 35 protects substantive and procedural rights of Aboriginal peoples of Canada, and is not merely a symbolic recognition of Aboriginal peoples. The following are some of the rules for interpreting the treaties that the Court has enunciated over the years:
- Treaties are sacred agreements in which exchanges of solemn promises are made and mutually binding obligations created;
- because the honour of the Crown is always at stake in its dealings with Aboriginal peoples, treaty interpretation having an impact on Treaty rights must be approached so as to maintain the Crown’s integrity, based on the assumption that the Crown intends to fulfil its promises;
- textual ambiguities are to be resolved in favour of Aboriginal peoples, and restrictions of Treaty rights narrowly construed, while the Crown bears the burden of strict proof that a Treaty right has been extinguished based on evidence of a clear government intention to do so;
- although treaty rights, like Aboriginal rights, are not absolute, it is equally if not more important to justify prima facie infringements of Treaty rights, in most cases under the test developed by the Court in relation to infringement of Aboriginal rights discussed above;
- treaty rights are specific and may be exercised only by the First Nation(s) that signed the Treaty in question.
What is the Treaty One organization doing and how will my family benefit?
Every man, woman and child of Treaty One Nation has Treaty rights. Some of these are quite specific such our rights to hunting, fishing, trapping and other activities such as gathering and ceremonies. Others are not so clear but are regarded by our people as fundamental to our culture, such as our right to continue our spiritual beliefs and practices in our sacred places. Still others are what are known as procedural rights that accrue to us as collectivities. For example, in respect of the pipelines, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that companies and governments who want to develop lands and resources in Canada have a duty to consult and accommodate First Nation concerns and interests in those areas. But governments and developers are not always respectful of our treaty rights and it is then up to leaders of First Nations to make sure that our rights are protected and observed. This is one important job that leaders of Treaty One have to do on a regular basis but whose results are not readily apparent in our communities.
Most important in any discussion of our Treaty rights, Canada remains stuck in the racist ideology and structures that enabled Prime Minister John A. McDonald to wage a program against Indigenous peoples to clear our lands and starve us out.
What work is Treaty One doing on the political front?
Treaty One is working on several fronts, the most promising of which is the former Kapyong Barracks – development (For more: www.treaty1.ca). But it is also about protecting and strengthening our Treaty rights and nation-building. Treaty One First Nations have proven capacity to mount complex economic and business developments with growing confidence and success in Winnipeg and other urban centres. In forming the Treaty One Nation and government in 2008, the seven member First Nations agreed to undertake the following required work:
- Defend and assert Treaty rights in all private and public developments which potentially impact the traditional territory of Treaty One
- Community, Economic and Business Development be proactively initiated for the benefit of all member 7 First Nations belonging to Treaty One
- Conduct nation-building and nurture “consciousness of oneness” among Treaty One Nation as a basis of moving forward – as a nation and government – not as “bands,” band councils”
What has Treaty One accomplished to date?
- Management and administration offices with staff have been established at Swan Lake First Nation near Headingley and at 1075 Portage Ave. in Winnipeg on reserve lands owned by Peguis First Nation.
- Treaty One chiefs were vindicated in their court battles over the former Kapyong lands, signing a purchase agreement with the federal government in 2018. Development of a Master Plan for former Kapyong lands has been in progress over the past year.
- Community engagement sessions have been conducted in Winnipeg and at the community level where appropriate, given COVID-19 restrictions and virtually using ZOOM software.
- Research and preparations are ongoing respecting former Kapyong lands and a community vote to approve the purchase of the property.
- Discussions have begun on the structure of Treaty One government which will be an ongoing exercise, both at the community and executive level, over the coming year.
- Treaty One has developed and adopted a flag that reflects the culture and history of Treaty One.
What is happening with the former Kapyong Base?
Thanks to extensive input from Treaty One First Nations members and Winnipeg neighbours, the preferred concept plan for the redevelopment of the former Kapyong Barracks has been unveiled. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Where can Treaty One citizens get more information?
Treaty One is publishing a quarterly newsletter to ensure that our people are kept informed about Treaty One activities. Our contact information is as follows:
TREATY ONE NATION – SUB OFFICE
103 -1075 Portage Avenue,