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Transcript of Treaty 8
Is it fair? Or is it Flawed?
First let's start off with some background on Treaty 8
There were a total of 12 Numbered Treaties, all of which were signed between the years of 1871-1921. This was the eighth of twelve numbered treaties that were signed.
The Government of Canada made the policies of Treaty 8. They also commissioned the commissioners of the agreement, and they were also the ones to ratify the treaty.
Treaty 8 was originally considered unnecessary for the expansion of Canadian settlements. The main reason for the creation of the treaty was the Klondike Gold Rush that occurred in the 1890's. The Europeans wanted rights to the land and the resources within it, so they made this agreement.
Treaty 8 was a very comprehensive treaty, it included a landmass of approximately 840,000 km sq. This means the area of land included in Treaty 8 was larger than the area of France. This land mass is home to 39 First Nation communities.
This treaty covered land in the northern parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. It also included a southern portion of the Northwest Territories.
The six First Nation groups that signed the treaty were:
The treaty was signed on June 21, 1899. The location in which the signing took place was just south of present day Grouard, Ab. Commissioners of Queen Victoria and the leaders of the six First Nation Groups signed this treaty. The main reasons the signatories of Treaty 8 agreed to the terms was for peace and friendship. They thought of this as a partnership.
What were the terms of Treaty 8?
The Government of Canada would get the title and the rights to the land of Treaty 8. This meant that the Government would get all of the resources in that area, with the exception of small First Nation Reserves.
First Nations would get free education, free health care, hunting and fishing rights, and exemption from taxes as long as they lived on a reserve. They were also paid an amount of money annually by the Canadian Government. The Chiefs would get $32, Headmen would receive $22, while regular First Nations would get only $12.
First Nations women and and children would only get $5 annually.
$5 CAD in 1899 would be $141 CAD in 2014 when adjusted to inflation.
An example of a residential school and the students that attended them. Do you notice how they are all Native?
Treaty 8 is still in place today.
The European Perspective
First Nations Perspective.
So, what do we think about Treaty 8? Is it fair? Or is it flawed?
We believe that it
Presentation by: Samuel Collins
And Matthew Pennie
We believe that Treaty 8 is flawed because the First Nations who signed the treaty did not exactly benefit from the agreements of the treaty. Their so called 'health care' that they received came in the form of a black box with some medical supplies. This is not health care, it is simply a first aid kit.
Also, the education the First Nations received came in the form of residential schools. These were schools that First Nation children and teenagers were forced to attend. Here they had no choice but to learn the European ways and leave their old ways behind. Students that attended these schools were often beaten and/or sexually assaulted. Residential schools were one of the causes for the increased rate of suicides among the First Nation communities.
This is an example of a residential school. Do you notice that all of the students are First Nations?
From a First Nations perspective, Treaty 8 was thought of as a partnership to share the land peacefully. The First Nations were told -by Europeans such as Father Albert Lacombe- that by signing the treaty, their lives would remain essentially unchanged. The First Nations ceded the title of their land for such things as reserve areas, ongoing financial support, annual shipments of hunting supplies, and hunting rights on the lands of Treaty 8
(if the land was not being used for forestry, mining, settlement,or other purposes by settlers)
. The only issue with this agreement is the fact that First Nations did not operate through
land ownership, and thus did not fully understand the ramifications of ceding their land in the first place. Therefore First Nation Chiefs had no way of accurately predicting the results of Treaty 8.
With the First Nation way of life changing rapidly due to the near extinction of the American Plains Bison in 1890, in comparison to the 60 million Bison that roamed North America in 1492. The First Nations Chiefs signing Treaty 8 must have felt forced into it because their old ways of living were disappearing.
From a European (Canadian) perspective in 1899, Treaty 8 was most likely seen as a fair way to deal with the First Nations groups who were in the way of settlement and resource extraction. The Government of Canada (who formulated the treaty) were much more official about land ownership than the First Nations. They decided it would be fair to ask First Nations people to sign a treaty. They believed this was a better alternative than having an open war with them (in contrast with the Americans who had fought with the First Nations since their independence). The Europeans (Canadians) felt that this was a much more peaceful and effective way to achieve access to the land and resources they wanted. Europeans also expected First Nations people to understand the concept of land ownership, so they based Treaty 8 on that assumption.
We also believe that Treaty 8 is flawed because the Europeans (Canadians) wrote the agreement and used their terms and ideas (land ownership,money) to create the agreement.
The Natives did not have a good sense of what land ownership really was, so when they signed the treaty they had no idea what they were actually giving up to the Europeans.
The Natives felt pressured into signing Treaty 8. They wanted to avoid war with the Europeans, the loss of life from such a war, and the destruction of their formerly peaceful relationship with the Europeans. They felt that signing Treaty 8 was the only sensible action at the time.
People from different cultures signing a Treaty is an act of peace, however when one of these groups does not understand the the treaty in full, it should be null and void. Treaty 8 should be replaced with modern agreements that may be comprehended by