Robinson Huron Treaty Annuity case headed to Supreme Court

Ontario will appeal the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuity Case to the Supreme Court.

Case centres on 1850 treaty which promised resource wealth share with Indigenous people

Mike Restoule is the chair of the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Ontario will appeal the Robinson Huron Treaty Annuity Case to the Supreme Court.

The case was upheld by both the Ontario Superior Court and then the Ontario Court of Appeal.

It centres on the 1850 treaty which promised to share the resource wealth of northern Ontario with Indigenous people. The annuity has remained at $4 per person since 1874.

The 21 First Nations involved said that amount needs to be re-negotiated, and the courts have agreed.

Mike Restoule is the chair of the Robinson-Huron Treaty Litigation Fund.

"And it basically goes back to a colonial stand in terms of dealing with First Nations," he said.

"In other words, Ontario seems to feel that they are the Crown and they're the only ones who can make a decision on how much compensation is to be paid to First Nations based on the treaty wording."

He said he believes the appeal is a delay tactic.

"I think there's a provincial election on the horizon and they don't want anything that might impact their campaign for re-election that's why they've punted this upfield," he said.

Restoule said the federal government is not appealing its part in the case, but it is refusing to negotiate until Ontario is at the table.

'Treaty interpretation and obligations'

In a statement, the Ministry of the Attorney General said it is seeking clarification.

"The Court of Appeal decided a number of important legal questions and Ontario is seeking to have the Supreme Court of Canada provide clarification on key issues of treaty interpretation and obligations," the ministry stated.

"Further details of Ontario's position on the appeal will be available when the factum is filed with the Supreme Court of Canada, if leave to appeal is granted."