Treaty-making processes of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries were undertaken in the spirit of peaceful co-existence and mutual respect by First Nations with the Crown. However, the imposition of the Indian Act and other legislation has directly undermined Treaties, nation-to-nation relationships with the Crown. First Nations’ understandings about the nature of Treaties, the significance of the Treaty-making processes and the spirit and intent of Treaties are critical, as are the oral histories and First Nation laws that governed at the time of Treaty-making.
The AFN has participated in numerous Treaty initiatives over the years to facilitate Treaty implementation. The AFN national strategy on Treaty implementation is guided by resolution 07/2010, “Sacred Treaties – Sacred Trust: Working Together for Treaty Implementation and Advancing our Sovereignty as Nations”. This resolution calls on AFN to support Treaty First Nations by coordinating the necessary dialogue and facilitating advocacy efforts led by each Treaty region.
The last effort at the national level to move Treaty implementation forward with Canada occurred in 2013 with the Senior Oversite Committee (SOC) process.
While initially promising, the Chiefs-in-Assembly ultimately chose to withdraw from the SOC process due to a lack of clear federal mandates.
In 2016, the Chiefs in Assembly passed resolution 12/2016 which calls on Canada to work with First Nations to develop a comprehensive consultation process that clearly defines the nation-to-nation relationship and includes the full implementation of Treaty rights.
With the current federal government, an opportunity exists to once again move Treaty implementation forward. The prime minister has stated that no relationship is more important than the one with Indigenous peoples, and has committed to seeking reconciliation through a nation-to-nation relationship. For many First Nations the nation-to-nation relationship finds meaning and is defined by Treaties.
The AFN remains committed to working with First Nation Treaty rights holders and Treaty regions to facilitate the full implementation of the Treaties based on the spirit and intent, and guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.