TREATY RIGHTS
by Robert Leavitt

People’s rights which are affirmed in a treaty are called treaty rights. The Mi’qmaq and Maliseet nations have treaty rights. They are the original inhabitants of the Maritimes. When the British asserted their authority over the region in the 1700s, the Mi’qmaq and Maliseet lived there. They began to sign treaties of peace and friendship with the British in 1725. They never signed any treaty in which they gave up land, and they never gave up their right to hunt and fish. The first treaty was designed to establish a long-lasting peace. It also affirmed the Native people’s right to hunt and fish. Even though fighting broke out from time to time after 1725, and even though the Mi’qmaq and the Maliseet lost control of most of their land, they continued to sign treaties of peace and friendship with the British. Important ones were signed in 1760 and 1761. Then, in the 1770s, Loyalists and other settlers began to arrive in the Maritimes in large numbers. The treaties were still valid, but from that time on the British government ignored them. After Confederation, the Canadian government cont Read More
TREATY RIGHTS
by Robert Leavitt

People’s rights which are affirmed in a treaty are called treaty rights. The Mi’qmaq and Maliseet nations have treaty rights. They are the original inhabitants of the Maritimes. When the British asserted their authority over the region in the 1700s, the Mi’qmaq and Maliseet lived there. They began to sign treaties of peace and friendship with the British in 1725. They never signed any treaty in which they gave up land, and they never gave up their right to hunt and fish. The first treaty was designed to establish a long-lasting peace. It also affirmed the Native people’s right to hunt and fish. Even though fighting broke out from time to time after 1725, and even though the Mi’qmaq and the Maliseet lost control of most of their land, they continued to sign treaties of peace and friendship with the British. Important ones were signed in 1760 and 1761. Then, in the 1770s, Loyalists and other settlers began to arrive in the Maritimes in large numbers. The treaties were still valid, but from that time on the British government ignored them. After Confederation, the Canadian government continued to ignore the treaties. However, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Mi’qmaq and the Maliseet still have the right to hunt and fish freely.

- Robert M. Leavitt, Mi’qmaq of the East Coast, Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000. p. 57

© Robert M. Leavitt. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will understand that Mi'qmaq and Maliseet peoples consider treaties signed between their ancestors and the British in the 1700s to be valid today.

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