First Nations seek to raise Canada’s rent after 150 years of $4 payments

When the fur-trader-turned-politician William Benjamin Robinson pulled up to the shores of the river that links Lake Superior and Lake Huron in 1850, his mission was clear: he was to gain access to as much of the vast territory around him as possible.

Acting on behalf of Queen Victoria, Robinson soon launched into formal negotiations with the indigenous people who lived in what would later become north-eastern Ontario in Canada.

Robinson treated with nearly two dozen communities whose connection to the land stretched back millennia.

Few of them could read, write or speak English fluently, but the two sides eventually struck a deal: in exchange for access to more than 35,700 square miles of land, Robinson offered hunting and fishing rights – and an annual payment equivalent to C$2 (£1.20/$1.60) per person each year.

In 1874, the payment was increased to C$4 a year. Since then, it has remained stagnant.

Now, 167 years after the Robinson Huron Treaty was signed, the document – and its original intent – is at the heart of a landmark legal challenge playing out in Ontario.

  • BillyHW

    Why a raise? They haven’t contributed anything to humanity since the invention of the snow shoe.

    • ntt1

      west coast natives were this close to inventing the thigh master ….but YT wrecked everything

      • Sharkibark

        The only society known to have never created a written language. Think about that. But I gotta give’em canoes. Canoes are cool.

        • ntt1

          they did do picto graphs on sandstone but the shortage of note paper did indeed cripple their development of writing just as the failure to invent the wheel kept road taxes manageable.

  • David Murrell

    $4 a year seems like a fair payment to me.

  • Millie_Woods

    Maybe we can start a landmark legal challenge to overturn that temporary ‘war tax’ that was introduced in 1917.

  • Hard Little Machine

    So…a million dollars a year per person?

  • Martin B

    Once they were proud to be warriors. Now they’re proud to be parasites.

  • FivePointSpurgeonist

    Wait, wait, wait. Weren’t we all just told that new citizens need to stand by indigenous treaties? Why aren’t we consulted on this treaty? I’m happy to keep Treaty 7 in effect with $5 and a rifle.

  • Drunk by Noon ✓

    Take them from four dollars to zero.
    I’m not a cruel monster.
    Do it humanely, over several years.

    Use the money to fire up the entire Residential School system again.
    Ahhh… good times!

  • andycanuck

    Raise it to the modern buying equivalent of that $4 and end all Native aid programme in the region.

  • terrence22

    This Bank of Canada link only goes back to 1914 – $4 back then has the buying power of $87 in 2017

  • canminuteman

    Aren’t they counting all the money we give them in welfare, and the cost of building roads and infrastrucutre in the middle of nowhere? If you count that money as treaty payment they are likely receiving tens of thousands each per year. We could let them go their own way, cut off all the non treaty payments and increase their 4 dollars to 6. We could even be really generous and increase it to 10.

  • Where do these layabouts get off?

  • Alain

    No, their connection to that land did NOT stretch back millennia. All of them had migrated from elsewhere, especially the Hurons. For the most party their migrations to different areas were the result of being chased out by invading stronger tribes. Actual history of “native north americans” is completely different from the Hollywood, Walt Disney narrative.

  • robins111

    More than covered by subsequent Treaty Cheques, Welfare, education, medical care, court costs, judicial incarceration costs etc. In fact they probably owe us. When can I expect my direct deposit?

  • Sharkibark

    My great grampa sold a farm 140 years ago on land now worth millions. I want my millions dammit!

  • Allan

    Well, after subtracting for all the taxes they get a break on, modern medicine keeping them alive, modern conveniences that make their life easier, all invented by Europeans, they might be happy with their $4 a year.

    • Alain

      I’d say they are the ones owing the citizens money not the reverse.

  • marty_p

    You mean they are reneging on their treaty? Isn’t that the classic definition of an “Ind*an Giver”?

  • ontario john

    How the hell can you buy anything at the Liquor store with $4.00