Our current understanding of treaty relationships must be based on Indigenous legal understandings and the legal and constitutional underpinnings of the sharing relationships that were negotiated between nations. Anishinaabe inaakonigewin and the laws of other Indigenous nations must guide the interpretation and implementation of treaties. Only then will we honour the spirit and intent of treaties.
In order to interpret and implement a treaty between the Crown and Canada’s First Nations, we must look to its spirit and intent, and consider what was contemplated by the parties at the time the treaty was negotiated. When the Stone Fort Treaty was made, the negotiations were defined by Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin), which included the relationship to the land, the attendance of all jurisdictions’ participants, and the rooting of the treaty relationship in kinship. While the focus of this book is on Treaty One, Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin) defined the settler-Anishinabe relationship well before this, and the principles of interpretation apply equally to all treaties with between the Crown and First Nations.
The story in this book reflects how natural law gives us an understanding of treaties, or what I call “agreements to make relationships” that would allow us (Indigenous and settler) to live well together, in harmony, in accordance with those laws. In particular, this story reminds us that our treaties are anchored in relationships based on respect, responsibility and renewal. Respect for each other, ongoing responsibilities towards one another and a constant renewal and affirmation of that relationship. What our ancestors promised was an equal and non-exploitative sharing of the land, for the benefit of everyone, including all the other beings that belong to the land as well: the trees, the rocks, the water, the four-legged animals, the winged ones, the crawlers, the swimmers, everyone!
For project: Relations autochtonnes, 2019
(Canada’s National History Society, 2018) pp. 34-40.
(Purich Publishing, 2013), 159 pp.
Canadian Journal of Women and The Law. 26:1-22, 2014
Canadian Bar Association National Aboriginal Law Conference in Winnipeg MB, 28-29 April 2011, 38 pp.
Delivered at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Tenth Annual Meeting at the American Indian Studies Centre at the University of California.
Berkeley California USA, 17-19 May 2018
Delivered at the Archive and Reconciliation: Re-Membering the Residential Schools Experience
Winnipeg MB, 1 November 2014
Delivered at the 250 Years of the Royal Proclamation Workshop hosted by the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Manitoba Museum.
Winnipeg MB, 4 October 2013