Northern Ontario First Nations win battle to raise $4 treaty annuities

Twenty-one First Nations in northern Ontario have won a case against the federal and Ontario governments to increase their annuities, which have not been raised in over 140 years.

Beneficiaries of the Robinson-Huron Treaty have not seen annuities go up since 1874

Mike Restoule is the chair of the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund, which represented the 21 First Nations involved in the legal challenge. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Twenty-one First Nations in northern Ontario have won a court case against the federal and provincial governments to increase their yearly annuities, which have not been raised in over 140 years.

Since 1874, beneficiaries of the Robinson-Huron Treaty have been collecting $4 each annually.

Hearings began in Thunder Bay last September. Justice Patricia Hennessy delivered a decision late on Friday.

A $4 per person cap "suggests that the treaties were a one-time transaction," Hennessy wrote in her ruling.

"As the historical and cultural context demonstrates, this was not the case; the parties were and continue to be in an ongoing relationship."

An exact amount was not set out in the ruling, however the annuities are to now be unlimited in their scope as they are intended as a mechanism to share the wealth generated by the resources within the treaty territory. 

With files from Waubgeshig Rice, Olivia Stefanovich