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The Canadian Crown and Aboriginal peoples


The Canadian Crown and Aboriginal peoples

The association between the Canadian Crown and Aboriginal peoples of Canada stretches back to the first decisions between North American indigenous peoples and European colonialists and, over centuries of interface, treaties were established concerning the monarch and aboriginal tribes. Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples now have a unique relationship with the reigning monarch and, like the Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand,[1] generally view the affiliation as being not between them and the ever-changing Cabinet, but instead with the continuous Crown of Canada, as embodied in the reigning sovereign.[2] These agreements with the Crown are administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and overseen by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.[3][4]


  • Relations 1
    • Definition 1.1
    • Expressions 1.2
  • History 2
    • French and British crowns 2.1
    • After the American Revolution 2.2
    • Independent Canada 2.3
    • Constitutional patriation 2.4
    • 21st century 2.5
  • Viceroys and Aboriginals 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Prince Arthur with the Chiefs of the Six Nations at the Mohawk Chapel, Brantford, 1869

The Office that I hold represents the Canadian Crown. As we are all aware the Crown has a fiduciary responsibility for the ongoing well being of Canada’s First Citizens.[5]

The association between Canada's Aboriginals and the Canadian Crown is both statutory and traditional, the treaties being seen by the first peoples both as legal contracts and as perpetual and personal promises by successive reigning kings and queens to protect Aboriginal welfare, define their rights, and reconcile their sovereignty with that of the monarch in Canada. The agreements are formed with the Crown because the monarchy is thought to have inherent stability and continuity, as opposed to the transitory nature of populist whims that rule the political government,[6][7][8][9] meaning the link between monarch and Aboriginals will theoretically last for "as long as the sun shines, grass grows and rivers flow."[10][11]

The relationship has thus been described as mutual—"cooperation will be a cornerstone for partnership between Canada and First Nations, wherein Canada is the short-form reference to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada"[10]—and "special,"[12] having a strong sense of "kinship" and possessing familial aspects.[13] Constitutional scholars have observed that First Nations are "strongly supportive of the monarchy,"[14][15][16] even if not necessarily regarding the monarch as supreme.[n 1] The nature of the legal interaction between Canadian sovereign and First Nations has similarly not always been supported.[n 2]


While treaties were signed between European monarchs and First Nations in North America as far back as 1676, the only ones that survived the Royal Proclamation of 1763;[18][19] while not a treaty, it is regarded by First Nations as their Magna Carta or "Indian Bill of Rights",[19][20] binding on not only the British Crown but the Canadian one as well,[21] as the document remains a part of the Canadian constitution.[19] The proclamation set parts of the King's North American realm aside for colonists and reserved others for the First Nations, thereby affirming native title to their lands and making clear that, though under the sovereignty of the Crown, the aboriginal bands were autonomous political units in a "nation-to-nation" association with non-native governments,[22][23] with the monarch as the intermediary.[24] This created not only a "constitutional and moral basis of alliance" between indigenous Canadians and the Canadian state as personified in the monarch,[18] but also a fiduciary affiliation in which the Crown is constitutionally charged with providing certain guarantees to the First Nations,[18][22][25] as affirmed in Sparrow v. The Queen,[26] meaning that the "honour of the Crown" is at stake in dealings between it and First Nations leaders.[10]

Given the "divided" nature of the Crown, the sovereign may be party to relations with aboriginal Canadians distinctly within a provincial jurisdiction.[n 3] This has at times lead to a lack of clarity regarding which of the monarch's jurisdictions should administer his or her duties towards indigenous peoples.[n 4]


This stone was taken from the grounds of Balmoral Castle in the Highlands of Scotland – a place dear to my great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. It symbolises the foundation of the rights of First Nations peoples reflected in treaties signed with the Crown during her reign. Bearing the cypher of Queen Victoria as well as my own, this stone is presented to the First Nations University of Canada in the hope that it will serve as a reminder of the special relationship between the sovereign and all First Nations peoples.[29]

From time to time, the link between crown and Aboriginal peoples will be symbolically expressed, through

  • Comprehensive and Specific Claims in Canada – Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Map of historical territory treaties with Aboriginal peoples in Canada
  • CBC Digital Archives – The Battle for Aboriginal Treaty Rights
  • Canada in the Making
  • Interviews with legal experts regarding Metis legal issues in the courts

External links

  • Nock, David (2006). With good intentions : Euro-Canadian and Aboriginal relations in colonial Canada. University of British Columbia.  

Further reading

  1. ^ Cox, Noel (2001), The Evolution of the New Zealand monarchy: The Recognition of an Autochthonous Polity, University of Auckland, retrieved 29 September 2009 
  2. ^ Mainville, Sara (1 June 2007), "Lawsuits, treaty rights and the sacred balance", Toronto Star, retrieved 18 May 2008 
  3. ^  
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  7. ^ a b c Hall, Anthony J. (1998). "The politics of monarchy: it's not what you might expect". Canadian Forum (Toronto: James Lorimer and Co.) (April 1998). Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "A Historical Analysis of Early Nation to Nation Relations in Canada and New Zealand: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Treaty of Niagara and The Treaty of Waitangi". University of Alberta. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  9. ^ Mainville, Sara (1 June 2007), "Lawsuits, treaty rights and the sacred balance", Toronto Star, retrieved 19 September 2007 
  10. ^ a b c  
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  12. ^ a b c Douglas, Sanders (1983), "The Indian Lobby", in Banting, Keith G.; Simeon, Richard, And no one cheered: federalism, democracy, and the Constitution Act, Toronto: Taylor & Francis, p. 303,  
  13. ^ a b Miller, J.R. (2005), "Petitioning the Great White Mother: First Nations' Organizations and Lobbying in London", in Buckner, Phillip, Canada and the End of Empire, Vancouver: UBC Press, p. 299,  
  14. ^ Elkins, David J., Watson, William, ed., "Any Lessons for Us in Australia's Debate?", Policy Options: Bye-Bye for Good? (Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy) (May 1999): 23, retrieved 10 February 2009 
  15. ^ Smith, David E. (1999). The Republican Option in Canada. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. p. 16.  
  16. ^ Boyce, Peter (2008), written at Sydney, Jackson, Michael D., ed., "The Senior Realms of the Queen", Canadian Monarchist News (Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada, published October 2009), Autumn 2009 (30): 11, retrieved 22 October 2009 
  17. ^ a b Peguis, Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Company, B.235/a/3 fos. 28-28d 
  18. ^ a b c d e f Hall, Anthony J., "Native Peoples > Native Peoples, General > Indian Treaties", in Marsh, James Harley, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, retrieved 30 September 2009 
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  21. ^ "About AFN > Charter of the Assembly of First Nations". Assembly of First Nations. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "About Us > Treaty Principals". Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  23. ^ Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada 1991, 2.1.1 Treaties are Nation to Nation
  24. ^ a b c d e f Matchewan, Jean-Maurice (4 February 1992), Presentation to the Members of the Committee to Examine Matters Relating to the Accession of Quebec to Sovereignty, Quebec City: Center for World Indigenous Studies, retrieved 29 September 2009 
  25. ^ Talaga, Tanya (13 June 2010), "The Ontario no G20 or G8 leader will see", Toronto Star, retrieved 13 June 2010 
  26. ^ Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada v. Sparrow, 1 S.C.R. 1075 (Supreme Court of Canada 31 May 1990).
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  28. ^ "Manitoba Land Treaty Entitlement". Queen's Printer for Manitoba. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
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  31. ^ White, Alan (30 June 1999), "Restored mansion reopened tomorrow", Native News, retrieved 7 December 2009 
  32. ^ a b Radforth, Ian (March 2003). "Performance, Politics, and Representation: Aboriginal People and the 1860 Royal Tour of Canada". Canadian Historical Review (Toronto: University of Toronto Press) 84 (1): 1–32.  
  33. ^ a b c d e Douglas 1983, p. 305
  34. ^ The Royal Collection. "e-Gallery > Exhibitions > Queen & Commonwealth > Gifts > Walking stick". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  35. ^ Buckner, Phillip (2005), "The Last Great Royal Tour: Queen Elizabeth's 1959 Tour to Canada", in Buckner, Phillip, Canada and the End of Empire, Vancouver: UBC Press, p. 77,  
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  37. ^ "Royal Involvement With Canadian Life". Monarchist League of Canada. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  38. ^ Coates, Colin MacMillan (2006). Majesty in Canada: essays on the role of royalty. Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd. p. 13.  
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  40. ^ Certer, Sarah (22 September 2004). "Your great mother across the salt sea": Prairie First Nations, the British Monarchy and the Vice Regal Connection to 1900". Manitoba History (Winnipeg: Manitoba Historical Society). Autumn/Winter 2004-2005 (48).  
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  42. ^ a b c "Page 1". Christ Church, Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  43. ^ a b "Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory > The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte". The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Research Department. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  44. ^  
  45. ^ a b Miller 2005, p. 301
  46. ^ a b Petrone, Penny (1983). First People, First Voices. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. Ch. 1.  
  47. ^ a b "History". Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
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  49. ^ Smith, Donald (2001). Semple, Neil, ed. "Nahnebahwequay (1824-1865): "Upright Woman"". Canadian Methodist Historical Society Papers (Toronto) 13: 74–105. 
  50. ^ Sandwell, R.W.F (2006), "Dreaming of the Princess: Love, Subversion, and the Rituals of Empire in British Columbia, 1882", in Coates, Colin MacMillan, Majesty in Canada: Rssays on the Role of Royalty, Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd., p. 61,  
  51. ^ Alberta Education, The Monarchy in Alberta: Student and Teacher Resource, Edmonton: Queen's Printer for Alberta, p. 3, retrieved 1 October 2009 
  52. ^ "Canada's First Nations > Treaty Obligations > B. Reasons for Negotiating and Signing the Prairie Treaties". University of Calgary. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  53. ^ Galbraith, William (1989). "Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) 12 (3): 7. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
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  58. ^ "Society > The Monarchy > Coronation of Queen Elizabeth". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
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  60. ^ a b Lavoie, Judith (7 November 2009), "National chief takes treaty message to Prince Charles", Times Colonist, retrieved 7 November 2009 
  61. ^ Buckner 2005, pp. 76–77
  62. ^ a b Douglas 1983, p. 306
  63. ^ Regina v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Indian Association of Alberta et al., 118, pp.127-8 (Judicial Committee of the Privy Council 1982).
  64. ^  
  65. ^ Fox, Paul, "The Canadian Encyclopedia", in Marsh, James Harley, Government > Parliamentary Institutions > Royal Commissions, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, retrieved 28 June 2010 
  66. ^ Morse, Bradford (February 2002), Comparative Assessments of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, Quebec and Abroad, Social Science Electronic Publishing, retrieved 29 June 2010 
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  68. ^ Ashini, Tanien (30 June 1997), Letter from Innu People to Queen Elizabeth II, Sheshatshiu: Hartford Web Publishing, retrieved 29 September 2009 
  69. ^ Monchuk, Judy (11 May 2005), "Natives decry 'token' presence for Queen's visit", The Globe and Mail, retrieved 14 February 2006 
  70. ^ Jamieson, Roberta (21 March 2003), Presentation to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources, archived from the original on 28 September 2007, retrieved 26 November 2007 
  71. ^ Derosa (7 November 2009), "Prince applauds B.C.'s aggressive approach to climate", The Vancouver Sun, retrieved 8 November 2009 
  72. ^  
  73. ^ "The 'special relationship' of native peoples and the Crown - Canada - CBC News". Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  74. ^ "Attawapiskat chief won't attend PM meeting in GG's absence - Politics - CBC News". Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  75. ^ "Queen declines to intervene in Chief Spence's protest - Canada - CBC News". 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  76. ^ "Chief Theresa Spence’s behaviour more foolish than ‘inspirational’ | National Post". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  77. ^ Canada (2013-01-10). "Native romantics dream of a king who will never come". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  78. ^ "Small meeting without the Governor-General was key for Harper | National Post". 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  79. ^ Friday, May 9, 2014 1:39 AM EDT (2013-01-11). "Theresa Spence: Protesting chief attends meeting with Governor General | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  80. ^ "SCC Cases (Lexum) - Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General)". Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
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  82. ^ Hubbard, R.H. (1977). Rideau Hall. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 15.  
  83. ^ Hubbard 1977, p. 65
  84. ^ Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (1989). Royal Spring: The Royal Tour of 1939 and the Queen Mother in Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 16.  
  85. ^ Hubbard 1977, p. 186
  86. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Rideau Hall > Gardens and Grounds". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  87. ^ Hubbard 1977, p. 158
  88. ^ a b Konkel, Chuck. "Adrienne's story". Star Media Group. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  89. ^  
  90. ^ O'Neil, Peter (22 June 2010), "N.B. lieutenant-governor took unique path to Buckingham Palace", Montreal Gazette, retrieved 23 June 2010 
  91. ^ Marsh, James Harley (ed.), "Biography > Lieutenant-Governors > Bartleman, James K.", The Canadian Encyclopedia, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, retrieved 3 October 2009 
  92. ^ "Steven Point appointed B.C.'s new lieutenant-governor". CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc. 4 September 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  93. ^  


  1. ^ In a speech given sometime between 1812 and 1817, Chief Great Spirit and could not claim the lands of the spirit as his own.[17]
  2. ^ The 1969 White Paper proposed that Aboriginal peoples in Canada be recognised by the Crown in the same fashion as non-native Canadians; a notion that was opposed by Status Indians but later supported by the Reform Party of Canada, which viewed the special treaty rights as racist.[18]
  3. ^ For instance, while section VI.91.24 of the Constitution Act, 1867, gives responsibility for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" to the monarch in right of Canada,[27] the 1929 Manitoba Natural Resources Transfer Agreement shifted to the monarch in right of Manitoba some of the aforementioned responsibility for setting aside provincial Crown Land to satisfy the sovereign's treaty obligations.[28]
  4. ^ The Constitution Act, 1867, gave the Crown in right of Quebec authority over lands and resources within the boundaries of the province, subject to "interest other than that of the province in the same," and it was commonly held that First Nations' title was such an interest. Yet, as early as 1906, federal treaty negotiators were explaining to the Algonquin in Quebec that it was only the Crown in right of Canada that could ratify treaties. Consequently, since Confederation, the Queen of Canada-in-Council has permitted the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec-in-Council to guide settlement and development of Algonquin lands. This arrangement has led to criticism from First Nations leaders of the sovereign's exercise of her duties in Quebec.[24]
  5. ^ For instance, the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and representatives of the Maliseet First Nation were in 1999 involved in a ceremony marking the restoration of Old Government House in New Brunswick as a royal and viceroyal residence, reflecting the participation of their ancestors in the original dedication ceremony on New Year's Day, 1826.[30][31]
  6. ^ An example being the occasion as when the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people's Capilano Indian Community Club of North Vancouver in 1953 gave the Duke of Edinburgh a walking stick in the form of a totem pole.[34]
  7. ^ Innu leader Mary Pia Benuen said in 1997: "The way I see it, she is everybody's queen. It's nice for her to know who the Innu are and why we're fighting for our land claim and self-government all the time."[20]
  8. ^ In that year, the Imperial Privy Council endorsed a grant of 20,000 acres (81 km2) to Joseph Marie Philibot at a location of his choosing, but Philibot's request for land on the Restigouche River was denied by the Governor of Quebec on the grounds that "the lands so prayed to be assigned are, or are claimed to be, the property of the Indians and as such by His Majesty's express command as set forth in his proclamation in 1763, not within their power to grant."[24]


See also

Five persons from First Nations have been appointed as the monarch's representative, all in the provincial spheres. Ralph Steinhauer was the first, having been made Lieutenant Governor of Alberta on 2 July 1974; Steinhauer was from the Cree nation.[89] W. Yvon Dumont was of Métis heritage and served as Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba between 1993 and 1999.[90] The first Lieutenant Governor of Ontario of aboriginal heritage was James Bartleman, who was appointed to the position on 7 March 2002. A member of the Mnjikaning First Nation, Bartlemen listed the encouragement of indigenous young people as one of his key priorities, and, during his time in the Queen's service, launched several initiatives to promote literacy and social bridge building, travelling to remote native communities in northern Ontario, pairing native and non-native schools, and creating the Lieutenant Governor's Book Program, which collected 1.4 million books that were flown into the province's north to stock shelves of First Nations community libraries.[91] On 1 October 2007, Steven Point, from the Skowkale First Nation, was installed as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia,[92] and Graydon Nicholas, born on the Tobique Indian Reserve, was made Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick on 30 September 2009.[93]

Governor General Vincent Massey (left) shares a laugh with an Inuit inhabitant of Frobisher Bay

Federal and provincial viceroys also met with First Nations leaders for more ceremonial occasions, such as when in 1867 Canada's first Governor General, The Viscount Monk, met with a native chief, in full feathers, amongst some of the first guests at Rideau Hall.[82] The Marguess of Lansdowne smoked a calumet with aboriginal people in the Prairies,[83] The Marquess of Lorne was there named Great Brother-in-Law,[84] and The Lord Tweedsmuir was honoured by the Kainai Nation through being made a chief of the Blood Indians and met with Grey Owl in Saskatchewan.[85] The Earl Alexander of Tunis was presented with a totem pole by Kwakiutl carver Mungo Martin, which Alexander erected on the grounds of Rideau Hall, where it stands today with the inukshuk by artist Kananginak Pootoogook that was commissioned in 1997 by Governor General Roméo LeBlanc to commemorate the second National Aboriginal Day.[86] Governor General The Viscount Byng of Vimy undertook a far-reaching tour of the north in 1925, during which he met with First Nations and heard their grievances at Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.[87] Later, Governor General Edward Schreyer was in 1984 made an honorary member of the Kainai Chieftainship, as was one his viceregal successors, Adrienne Clarkson, who was made such on 23 July 2005, along with being adopted into the Blood Tribe with the name Grandmother of Many Nations.[88] Clarkson was an avid supporter of Canada's north and Inuit culture, employing students from Nunavut Arctic College to assist in designing the Clarkson Cup and creating the Governor General's Northern Medal.[88]

As the representatives in Canada and the provinces of the reigning monarch, both governors general and lieutenant governors have been closely associated with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. This dates back to the colonial era, when the sovereign did not travel from Europe to Canada, and so dealt with aboriginal societies through his viceroy. After the American Revolution, a tradition was initiated in eastern Canada of appealing to the viceregal representatives for redress of grievances,[46] and later, after returning from a cross-country tour in 1901, during which he met with First Nations in the Yukon, Governor General The Earl of Minto urged his ministers to redress the wrongs he had witnessed in the north and to preserve native heritage and folklore.[81]

It seems history has come full circle. More than 200 years ago, the Anishinabe people welcomed the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Graves Simcoe, to their territory. And now I, their descendant, am being welcomed by you as the Sovereign's representative...[48]

Viceroys and Aboriginals

On March 8, 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada found that "the federal Crown failed to implement the land grant provision set out in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 in accordance with the honour of the Crown." This is part of the Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v. Canada legal proceedings.[80]

During the Idle No More protest movement of 2012-2013 and the concurrent liquids-only hunger strike by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat First Nation, a constitutional issue emerged as to the proper role of the various representatives of "the Crown" (i.e. the state) in dealing with requests for negotiations from First Nations leaders. Chief Spence demanded a meeting, to be held between prime minister and the governor general representing the Crown, and the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and the chiefs of various regional and tribal councils. She, as well as several of her supporters and sympathizers, wrote to the queen asking Elizabeth II to instruct the governor general to attend.[74] The queen declined to do so, indicating that she was bound to follow the advice of her ministers in the federal cabinet.[75] Spence then indicated that she would boycott a meeting involving the prime minister and other First Nations leaders because the Governor General David Johnston had stated that he would not attend, saying that the meeting was a "working meeting" dealing with policy issues (as opposed to a matter of state). Commentators such as the National Post's Kelly McParland characterized Spence's request as "foolish" and betraying an ignorance of the Canadian constitution.[76] An unsigned editorial in The Globe and Mail supported the idea of the governor general playing a role by listening to grievances from Aboriginal leaders as "listener-in-chief", but called said it was "wrong" to insist that the governor general attend policy discussions and the idea that First Nations people could relate to the Crown and the government "as if they were two separate entities"..."a fantasy". Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson called the historical premise of the request, a direct relationship between the monarchy and sovereign Aboriginal nations, "mythological".[77] The Privy Council Office, under the direction of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, insisted that the meeting involve only a few chiefs and that it should not include the governor general, because it did not want to create the impression that the governor general had the constitutional authority to change government policy.[78] In the end, Spence and several other chiefs had a "ceremonial" meeting with the governor general on 11 January 2013,[79] while the separate working meeting between Harper and other chiefs tooks place the same day. Spence did not end her protest until 24 January 2013.

On the occasion of a visit of Prince Charles to Canada in 2012, the CBC held a round-table discussion between Shawn Atleo the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, John Borrows a constitutional scholar at the University of Minnesota and an Anishinabe from Ontario, Pamela Palmater a lawyer and professor at Ryerson University and a Mi'kmaq from New Brunswick, and Taiaiake Alfred a Mohawk from Kahnawake and a professor at the University of Victoria, asking them to reflect on the relationship between the Crown and First Nations. Alfred said that the British Crown's promises to First Nations people were binding on the Canadian state, but that Canada had broken all of the promises. Burrows said that the honour of the House of Windsor should demand that Charles guarantee that the treaties be upheld. Palmater, speaking of Prince Charles said: "He is the Crown and given that it was the Crown who signed treaties and made promises and established the relationship with indigenous nations — he ought to assume some responsibility for making sure Canada carries out those obligations, which the Crown unilaterally devolved to Canada without input from First Nations."[73]

On 4 July 2010, Queen Elizabeth II presented to Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks and Christ Church Royal Chapel sets of handbells, to symbolise the councils and treaties between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Crown.[72]

Prince Charles in 2009 added another dimension to the relationship between the Crown and First Nations when, in a speech in Vancouver, he drew a connection between his own personal interests and concerns in environmentalism and the cultural practices and traditions of Canada's First Nations.[71]

A similar scene took place at British Columbia's Government House, when in 2009 Shawn Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, presented Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, with a letter of complaint about the Crown's fulfillment of its treaty duties, and requested a meeting with the Queen.[60]

Portraits of the Four Mohawk Kings that had been commissioned while the aboriginal leaders were in London had then hung at Kensington Palace for nearly 270 years, until Queen Elizabeth II in 1977 donated them to the Canadian Collection at the National Archives of Canada, unveiling them personally in Ottawa. That same year, the Queen's son, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, visited Alberta to attend celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 7, when he was made a Kainai chieftain,[33] and, as a bicentennial gift in 1984, Elizabeth II gave to the Christ Church Royal Chapel of the Mohawks a silver chalice to replace that which was lost from the 1712 Queen Anne set during the American Revolution.[43] In 2003, Elizabeth's other son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, opened the Regina, Saskatchewan, campus of the First Nations University of Canada, where the Queen made her first stop during her 2005 tour of Saskatchewan and Alberta and presented the university with a commemorative granite plaque.[29]

The Regina campus of the First Nations University of Canada, opened by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and which contains a stone plaque donated by Queen Elizabeth II

During the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2005, First Nations stated that felt relegated to a merely ceremonial role, having been denied by federal and provincial ministers any access to the Queen in private audience.[69] First Nations leaders have also raised concerns about what they see as a crumbling relationship between their people and the Crown, fuelled by the failure of the federal and provincial cabinets to resolve land claim disputes, as well as a perceived intervention of the Crown into aboriginal affairs.[70] Formal relations have also not yet been founded between the monarchy and a number of First Nations around Canada; such as those in British Columbia who are still engaged in the process of treaty making.

21st century

In 1994, while the Queen and her then Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, were attending an aboriginal cultural festival in Yellowknife, the Dene community of the Northwest Territories presented a list of grievances over stalled land claim negotiations. Similarly, the Queen and Chrétien visited in 1997 the community of Sheshatshiu in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Innu people of Quebec and Labrador presented a letter of grievance over stagnant land claim talks. On both occasions, instead of giving the documents to the Prime Minister, as he was not party to the treaty agreements, they were handed by the Chiefs to the Queen, who, after speaking with them, then passed the list and letter to Chrétien for he and the other ministers of the Crown to address and advise the Queen or her viceroy on how to proceed.[68]

Some 15 years later, Governor General-in-Council, per the Inquiry Act and on the advice of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney,[64][65][66] established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples to address a number of concerns surrounding the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in Canada. After 178 days of public hearings, visits by 96 communities, and numerous reviews and reports, the central conclusion reached was that "the main policy direction, pursued for more than 150 years, first by colonial then by Canadian governments, has been wrong," focusing on the previous attempts at cultural assimilation. It was recommended that the nation-to-nation relationship of mutual respect be re-established between the Crown and First Nations,[67] specifically calling for the monarch to "announce the establishment of a new era of respect for the treaties" and renew the treaty process through the issuance of a new royal proclamation as supplement to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.[19] It was argued by Tony Hall, a professor of Native American studies at the University of Lethbridge, that the friendly relations between monarch and indigenous Canadians must continue as a means to exercise Canadian sovereignty.[7]

No meeting with the Queen took place, but the indigenous Canadians' position was confirmed by Master of the Rolls the Lord Denning, who ruled that the relationship was indeed one between sovereign and First Nations directly, clarifying further that, since the Statute of Westminster was passed in 1931, the Canadian Crown had come to be distinct from the British Crown, though the two were still held by the same monarch, leaving the treaties sound.[18][63] Upon their return to Canada, the NIB was granted access to first ministers' meetings and the ability to address the premiers.[62]

In the prelude to the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982, First Nations leaders campaigned for and against the proposed move,[12][13] many asserting that the federal ministers of the Crown at that time had no right to advise the Queen that she sever, without consent from the First Nations, the treaty rights she and her ancestors had long granted to aboriginal Canadians.[12] Worrying to them was the fact that their relationship with the monarch had, over the preceding century, come to be interpreted by Indian Affairs officials as one of subordination to the government – a misreading on the part of non-aboriginals of the terms Great White Mother and her Indian Children.[45] Indeed, First Nations representatives were locked out of constitutional conferences in the late 1970s, leading the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) to make plans to petition the Queen directly. The Liberal Cabinet at the time, not wishing to be embarrassed by having the monarch intervene, extended to the NIB an invitation to talks at the ministerial level, though not the first ministers' meetings. But the invite came just before the election in May 1979, which put the Progressive Conservative Party into Cabinet and the new ministers of the Crown decided to advise the Queen not to meet with the NIB delegation, while telling the NIB that the Queen had no power.[33] The ministers of the Crown eventually reversed their position and offered a similar invitation to constitutional talks, but the NIB party, consisting of over 200 people, had already departed for London.[62]

Constitutional patriation

In 1970, Elizabeth II's presence at The Pas, Manitoba, provided an opportunity for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation to publicly express their perceptions of injustice meted out by the government.[59] Then, during a royal tour by the Queen in 1973, Harold Cardinal delivered a politically charged speech to the monarch and the Queen responded, stating that "her government recognized the importance of full compliance with the spirit and intent of treaties";[60] the whole exchange had been pre-arranged between the two.[33] Still, during the same tour, Aboriginal people were not always granted the personal time with the Queen that they desired; the meetings with First Nations and Inuit tended to be purely ceremonial affairs wherein treaty issues were not officially discussed. For instance, when Queen Elizabeth arrived in Stoney Creek, Ontario, five chiefs in full feathered headdress and a cortege of 20 braves and their consorts came to present to her a letter outlining their grievances, but were prevented by officials from meeting with the sovereign.[61] In 1976, the Queen did receive First Nations delegations at Buckingham Palace, such as the group of Alberta Aboriginal Chiefs who, along with Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and Cree chief Ralph Steinhauer,[33] held audience with the monarch there.[59]

King George's daughter, Elizabeth, aceeded to the throne in 1952. Squamish Nation Chief Joe Mathias was amongst the Canadian dignitaries who were invited to attend the her coronation in London the following year.[58] In 1959, the Queen toured Canada and, in Labrador, she was greeted by the Chief of the Montagnais and given a pair of beaded moose-hide jackets; at Gaspé, Quebec, she and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were presented with deerskin coats by two local aboriginal people; and, in Ottawa, a man from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory passed to officials a 200 year old wampum as a gift for Elizabeth. It was during that journey that the Queen became the first member of the Royal Family to meet with Inuit representatives, doing so in Stratford, Ontario, and the royal train stopped in Brantford, Ontario, so that the Queen could sign the Six Nations Queen Anne Bible in the presence of Six Nations leaders. Across the prairies, First Nations were present on the welcoming platforms in numerous cities and towns, and at the Calgary Stampede, more than 300 Blackfoot, Tsuu T'ina, and Nakoda performed a war dance and erected approximately 30 teepees, amongst which the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh walked, meeting with various chiefs. In Nanaimo, British Columbia, a longer meeting took place between Elizabeth and the Salish, wherein the latter conferred on the former the title of Mother of all People and, following a dance of welcome, the Queen and her consort spent 45 minutes– 20 more than allotted—touring a replica First Nations village and chatting with some 200 people.

[57] by the King at Buckingham Palace.Silver Star, the President of the United States and, on behalf of the Military Medal, who was presented with the Tommy Prince some receiving personal recognition from the King, such as [56] Following Canada's legislative independence from the United Kingdom – codified by the

Independent Canada

Once the Dominion Crown purchased what remained of Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company and colonial settlement expanded westwards, more treaties were signed between 1871 and 1921, wherein the Crown brokered land exchanges that granted the aboriginal societies reserves and other compensation, such as livestock, ammunition, education, health care, and certain rights to hunt and fish.[51] This situation under the Crown was regarded by the First Nations as better than that which had befallen their brethren in the United States.[52] The treaties did not ensure peace: as evidenced by the North-West Rebellion of 1885, sparked by Métis people's concerns over their survival and discontent on the part of Cree people over perceived unfairness in the treaties signed with Queen Victoria.

In 1860, during one of the first true royal tours of Canada, First Nations put on displays, expressed their loyalty to Queen Victoria, and presented concerns about misconduct on the part of the Indian Department to the Queen's son, Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, when he was in Canada West.[32] In that same year, Nahnebahwequay of the Ojibwa secured an audience with the Queen.[49] When Governor General the Marquess of Lorne and his wife, Princess Louise, a daughter of Queen Victoria, visited British Columbia in 1882, they were greeted upon arrival in New Westminster by a floatilla of local Aboriginals in canoes who sang songs of welcome before the royal couple landed and proceeded through a ceremonial arch built by Aboriginals, which was hung with a banner reading "Clahowya Queenastenass", Chinookian for "Welcome Queen." The following day, the Marquess and Marchioness gave their presence to an event attended by thousands of First Nations people and at least 40 chiefs. One presented the Princess with baskets, a bracelet, and a ring of Aboriginal make and Louise said in response that, when she returned to the United Kingdom, she would show these items to the Queen.[50]

King Queen Elizabeth meet with Nakoda chieftains, who display an image of the King's great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in Calgary, 1939
The Indian Chiefs Medal, presented to commemorate Treaties 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, bearing the effigy of Queen Victoria

The Bay of Quinte and the Grand River Valley, where North America's only two Chapels RoyalChrist Church Royal Chapel of the Mohawks and Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks—were built to symbolise the connection between the Mohawk people and the Crown.[42][47] Thereafter, the treaties with aboriginals across southern Ontario were dubbed the Covenant Chain and ensured the preservation of First Nations' rights not provided elsewhere in the Americas.[48] This treatment encouraged the loyalty of the aboriginal peoples to the sovereign and, as allies of the King, they aided in defending his North American territories, especially during the War of 1812.[7]

During the course of the American Revolution, First Nations assisted King George III's North American forces, who ultimately lost the conflict. As a result of the Congress of the Confederation, British North America was divided into the sovereign United States (US) and the still British Canadas, creating a new international border through some of those lands that had been set apart by the Crown for First Nations and completely immersing others within the new republic.[18] As a result, some aboriginal tribes felt betrayed by the King and their service to the monarch was detailed in oratories that called on the Crown to keep its promises,[46] especially after nations that had allied themselves with the British sovereign were driven from their lands by Americans.[42][47] New treaties were drafted and those indigenous nations that had lost their territories in the United States, or simply wished to not live under the US government, were granted new land in Canada by the King.

After the American Revolution

[45] In 1763, George III issued a

The sovereigns also sought alliances with the First Nations; the [24] Yet, two days before, the Algonquin, along with the Hurons of Lorette and eight other tribes, had already ratified a treaty at Fort Lévis, making them allied with, and subjects of, the British king, who instructed General the Lord Amherst to treat the First Nations "upon the same principals of humanity and proper indulgence" as the French, and to "cultivate the best possible harmony and Friendship with the Chiefs of the Indian Tribes."[24] The retention of civil code in Quebec, though, caused the relations between the Crown and First Nations in that jurisdiction to be viewed as dissimilar to those that existed in the other Canadian colonies.

Both British and French monarchs viewed their lands in North America as being held by them in totality, including those occupied by First Nations. Typically, the treaties established delineations between territory reserved for colonial settlement and that distinctly for aboriginal use. The French kings, though they did not admit claims by aboriginals to lands in New France, granted the natives reserves for their exclusive use; for instance, from 1716 onwards, land north and west of the Nova Scotia and Acadia in exchange for the guarantee that the indigenous people "not be molested in their persons... by His Majesty's subjects."[44]

The chalices in 1712.[43]

Explorers commissioned by French and English monarchs made contact with North American aboriginals in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. These interactions were generally peaceful—the agents of each sovereign seeking the Indians' alliance in wresting territories away from the other monarch—and the partnerships were typically secured through treaties, the first signed in 1676. However, the English also used friendly gestures as a vehicle for establishing Crown dealings with aboriginal inhabitants, while simultaneously expanding their domain: as fur traders and outposts of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), a crown corporation founded in 1670, spread westward across the continent, they introduced the concept of a just, paternal monarch to "guide and animate their exertions," to inspire loyalty, and promote peaceful relations.[11] They also brought with them images of the English monarch, such as the medal that bore the effigy of King Charles II (founder of the HBC) and which was presented to native chiefs as a mark of distinction; these medallions were passed down through the generations of the chiefs' descendants and those who wore them received particular honour and recognition at HBC posts.[40][41]

Portraits of the Four Mohawk Kings, painted in 1710, during their visit with Queen Anne
Map of the North American Eastern Seaboard as divided by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Treaty of Paris gains in pink, and Spanish territorial gains after the Treaty of Fontainebleau in yellow

French and British crowns


Since as early as 1710, Aboriginal leaders have met to discuss treaty business with Royal Family members or viceroys in private audience and many continue to use their connection to the Crown to further their political aims.[38] The above-mentioned pageants and celebrations have, for instance, been employed as a public platform on which to present complaints to the monarch or members of her family. It has been said that Aboriginal people in Canada appreciate this ability to do this before the witness of national and international cameras.[n 7][39]

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, who was named Attaniout Ikeneego by the Inuit of Nunavut, Leading Star by the Ojibwa of Winnipeg, and Pisimwa Kamiwohkitahpamikohk by the Cree of Saskatchewan

. Wanuskewin Heritage Park, by an elder in a ceremony at The Sun Looks at Him in a Good Way, or Pisimwa Kamiwohkitahpamikohk, when he was named Saskatchewan and again in 2001, during the Prince's first visit to [37],Leading Star named Charles Winnipeg students in Ojibwa and Cree Charles was further honoured in 1986, when [36].Son of the Big Boss, meaning Attaniout Ikeneego Prince Charles, was in 1976 given by the Inuit the title of [35] in 1959 and her son,Salish nation by the Mother of all People Queen Elizabeth II was named [17][11]

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