First Nations Treaties Essay (Canada)

607 words - 3 pages

Less than 500 years ago, the only people living in Canada were Aboriginal peoples. Hundreds of tribes were created and those who later came had first contact with the Aboriginal nations. The new settlers relied on First Nations for resources and trade. There were times of war and conflict created when they began to live in the occupied land so they had to look for peaceful means. One of these means was the treaties.

The newcomers described the many different First Nations as Indian. One theory to how they were named Indian was when Christopher Columbus sailed into the islands around Cuba; he called the people Indians because he thought they were from India. A treaty is a negotiated agreement between two or more nations which are passed on over time. For a treaty to exist, the representatives of the First Nations and of the Crown must make an agreement which is sealed. The Crown used a ...view middle of the document...

First Nations generally saw treaties as a way of planning for their economic future. In the 19th century, the First Nations who occupied the prairies were faced with famine, disease and hardship as the buffalo they relied on became very scarce. The First Nations were influenced by these harsh living conditions, and focused on how to ensure their survival for generations to come. They expressed great concerns about the continuation of their traditions such as hunting and fishing. Treaties promised the First Nations with help in agricultural implements, healthcare, schools, and payments per year for each member were also promised.

Canada benefited from treaties in many ways. In the period of 1870 to 1877, Treaties 1 to 7 cleared the way for the Canadian Pacific Railway and farming settlement in the prairies and northwestern Ontario. Treaty 8, giving access to the Yukon Territory, was entered into after the start of the gold rush. Treaty 8 records the largest land settlement of approximately 840,000 kilometres that is home to thirty-nine First Nation communities. Treaty 9 followed silver discoveries, pulp and paper development in northern Ontario and Treaty 10 served a similar purpose in northern Saskatchewan. Treaty 11 was entered into after Imperial Oil’s first oil well at Norman Wells. While the American government spent around $20 million every year during the 1870’s forcing First Nations off of the United States plains through bloody conflicts, Canada spent only a little more than $730,000 with less bloodshed during these years.

In conclusion, treaties have characteristics and commonly held beliefs. First, treaties with the First Nations are unique and sacred agreements that reflect a common understanding although there are many differences between the parties. A treaty creates rights and obligations for both parties. Treaties are not just part of Canada’s history, they are part of the fabric of Canadian society today.

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