Leaders and members of 21 First Nations communities across northern Ontario are gathering on the cultural grounds of the Atikameksheng Anishinawbek First Nation this week.

Up for discussion is the meaning and significance of the Robinson-Huron Treaty, the 1850 agreement between the British Crown and the Ojibway of Lake Huron.

According to the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs' website, two treaties were negotiated and signed for the north shores of Lakes Superior and Huron.

"Part of the early northern expansion of what would become Ontario, the Robinson Treaties opened the area's natural resources to initial exploration and exploitation," the website explains. 

Atikameksheng chief Steve Miller says the annual event has been growing since the first gathering was held five years ago, and more people are beginning to recognize the important role the treaty plays in the relationship between the Canadian government and First Nations communities.

"This is a very significant event," Miller said. "When the Crown and the First Nations Chiefs discussed how we can share the land, and making sure that we lived good lives together."

Miller said the treaty defines the relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous people across the region, and the gathering is an opportunity to reflect on that connection.

"When the people start to talk about it, there is realization the treaties were a good thing," he said. "We could live together in harmony, and share the abundance of Turtle Island and within the Robinson-Huron territory."

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and National Chief Perry Bellegarde are also attending the three-day gathering, which is open to the public.