Robinson-Huron Treaty annuities case enters phase two
Justice Patricia Hennessy ruled last year the Crown has an obligation to increase annuities
Indigenous leaders involved with the Robinson-Huron Treaty annuities case say they are frustrated with how the provincial and federal governments are approaching negotiations.
The case involves members of the Robinson-Huron Treaty and the amount they receive in annuities from the provincial and federal governments. Those annuities have not been raised since 1874, currently sitting at $4 annually per member.
Last December, Justice Patricia Hennessy ruled in favour of members of the Robinson-Huron Treaty. An exact amount was not set out in the ruling, which is currently being decided in phase two of the case which started on Tuesday in Sudbury.
Since Hennessy's ruling came down, the provincial government appealed the decision and a date for the appeal has not been set. The federal government didn't appeal the case.
Wiikwemkoong Chief Duke Peltier says correspondence has been sent to the federal and provincial governments encouraging negotiation talks.
"As far as we know, the federal government cabinet failed to issue negotiation instructions to their officials to negotiate a settlement," he said.
"What has the government of Ontario done? It has appealed the decision … and advanced the motion to open phase one of the case on the basis that they have fresh evidence to support their defence against the claim. The motion was denied."
He says the lack of talks is frustrating for those involved.
"Reconciliation is not a political slogan or policy choice," he said. "Reconciliation is an imperative directed by the Supreme Court of Canada in many decisions concerning Indigenous rights."
Serpent River First Nation Chief Elaine Johnston says this process should be settled in good negotiation talks, which don't include the courts.
"If the government really wanted to do this in good faith with us as First Nations and you're talking reconciliation, then they would negotiate with us," she said. "This would be both levels of government."
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She says there hasn't been a lot of movement from the provincial government on the talks. At the federal level, she says the current federal election is complicating things.
"It depends on who gets in power in the federal election," she said. "My concern is the stalling tactics that are happening to move this forward."
Phase two of the case will take place in Sudbury over the next two weeks.
With files from Waubgeshig Rice