First Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters, Declaration of the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy (15-16 March 1983)
By: Peigan Tribe
Citation: First Ministers’ Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters, Declaration of the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Doc 800-017/036 (Ottawa: 15-16 March 1983).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
FIRST MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE
ABORIGINAL CONSTITUTIONAL MATTERS
PEIGAN TRIBE OF THE BLACKFOOT CONFEDERACY
ASSEMBLY OF THE FIRST NATION
March 15-16, 1983
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. A DECLARATION OF THE PEIGAN TRIBE OF THE BLACKFOOT CONFEDERACY
3. REFERENCE DOCUMENTS
PEIGAN TRIBE OF THE BLACKFOOT CONFEDERACY
We, the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy, were given this land by the
Creator. Our spiritual relation to nature provided strong ties and responsi-
bilities to maintain the sacred balance between our people and Mother Earth.
We, the original people of the Blackfoot Territory by virtue of our fore-
fathers, have occupied as aboriginal people, the geographical area, it’s trad-
itional boundaries these being to the North, the Red Deer River or Elk River,
East to the Sweetgrass Hills, South to the Yellowstone River and West to the
Rocky Mountains, from time immemorial.
Therefore, we, the Peigan Tribe, declare that we are the first nation of this
Land, and have exercised our right to sovereignty within our social, political,
e:onomical and educational systems from time immemorial.
We, the Peigan Tribe, reserve all rights in the past, present and future to
determine our destiny, be it political, economical and socially.
We, the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy, maintain an integral net-
work to trade and enterprise among the Indian Nations. These rights to exist
on this sacred land, were given by the Creator and not by governments or legis-
lation. The right to work in harmony and the initiative of present and future
We, the Peigan Tribe, maintain a unique identity as a member of the first
nations of the Blackfoot Territory.
We, the Peigan Tribe maintain the rights to the natural resources of our
Mother Land and it’s wealths thereon and therein.
The Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy recognizes the Federal Proclam-
ations and Statutes of Law and Treaties concerning the legal process
entrenched in Law defining specific rights and guarantees, outlined as
1. The Royal Charter of Ruperts Land 1670.
2. The Royal Proclamation of George III 1763.
3. The Constitutional Act. (1791) 31 George III Section XLV.
4. The Ruperts Land Act 1868 (31 – 32 Victoria).
5. The Order of Her Majesty in Council admitting Ruperts
Land, Schedule (A) of Ruperts Land Transfer.
6. The British North America Act (1867).
7. The Indian Act s.c. 1868 c. 42 (31 Victoria) an Act
providing for the organizations of the Department of
the Secretary of State of Canada, and for the management
of Indian and Ordinance Lands, Section 1-11.
8. The Dominion Land Act 1872.
9. Treaty #7 Order In Council: P. C. 650-12 July 1877.
ratified by: Order In Council o.c. (No number) 6 February 1878.
10. The British North America Act 1930.
That we, the original people of the Blackfoot Confederacy, maintain all rights
and guarantees to be determined by the 37 (2) First Ministers’ Conference
between our Native Leaders and the Government of Canada, remain at the negoti-
ation level until such time as our Native Leaders and the Government of
Canada review, interpret and define the Proclamation, Federal Statutes of Law
We, the Peigan Tribe, further, declare and serve notice to the Crown in right of
Canada that the Nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy will set the time,
location and format of the discussions which will take place following the
37 (2) First Ministers’ Conference. Such discussions shall not include any
role for the Province.
We, the Peigan Tribe, further, declare that we recognize the relation between
the aboriginal people and Canada as a unique status maintained by our people
under present Treaty Agreements.
Whereas, we, the aboriginal people of the Blackfoot Territory, are unique and
will not be affected by any discussion made by the First Ministers’ Conference
and/or any discussion made by or arrived at by other Indian Organizations or
representatives of the Indians of Canada and the Federal Government or Provin-
The citizenship of any person, or persons, professing to be a Canadian will
never be clearly defined until the status of the Indian Nation is full clarified.
This declaration and affirmation ratified by the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot
Confederacy this 14th day of March, 1983.
PEIGAN CONSTITUTION COMITTEE
CHIEF: Peter Yellow Horn
COUNCILLORS: Charles B. Grier
Jerry Ports, Sr.
Gregg C. Smith
1. That We, the Peigan Tribe as the aboriginal people of the
Blackfoot Territory are interested only in:
1. A valid inquiry and clarification process of the Treaty
with the Dominion of Canada.
2. That radification of Treaty #7 to maintain a force of
law as any other statute of legislation which is admin-
istered by the Government of Canada.
Whereas, the Treaty Seven Indian Chiefs have formed a consen-
sus concerning the content of the following statements of
principle and intent:
That the performance of Treaty #7 was a legal recognition of
aboriginal rights to the Blackfoot Territory.
Confirmation of the position that the Treaties with the Crown
and various Indian Nations be examined and clarified; These
Treaties have never defined the precise quality of Indian
Rights nor have they been defined in Canadian Law; They have
been ratified, but never legislated to carry the force of law.
The courts have referred to them as not being Treaties with
foreign powers, but merely agreements between two parties.
2. That any current legislation proposal directly affecting the
future status of our collective rights be suspended indefinite-
ly until those rights are entrenched in the Constitution and
furthermore; that government policies, operational plans, legal
opinions, conditions to contributing agreements and similar
administrative actions be suspended indefinitely until the
Constitutional Meetings render a mutual agreement on any en-
trenchment of our collective rights. All existing services
and programs to the Treaty Seven Nations continue without pre-
judice while the On-Going Process is in it‘s negotiation stage.
3. This meeting (Sec. 37-2) is only to establish an On-Going
Process on a mechanism to facilitate an agreement between
the Federal Government and Treaty #7 Nations on entrenchment
of our collective rights in the Canadian Constitution.
4. The Federal Government of Canada must provide the necessary
financial support to Treaty Seven Nation to ensure full
participation for our people, communities, and agencies on
a process and/or mechanism mutually agreed on.
5. Treaty Seven Nations object to the presence of Provincial
Governments at this meeting and will negotiate only with the
Federal Government as our forefathers did at the signing of
6. There must be committment by the Government of Canada that
there will be no action by itself and/or Provincial Govern-
ments to impede our negotiation to resolve outstanding issues,
without our consent. The method and process to obtain consent
must be subject to scrutiny from an official United Nations
Observer appointed by the Committee on Trusteeships and De-
7. That we reject any implication from usage of the phrase «ident-
ification and definition» that all aboriginal people must be
subject to any singular definition and application of rights
which must reflect the diverse historical and political devel-
opments of Indian Nations and their unique cultures, languages
religions and societies.
ITEMIZED REFERENCE DOCUMENTS AS LEGISLATED IN THE REVISED STATUTES OF
CANADA AND ORDERS IN COUNCIL (REFERENCE CANADA GAZETTE).
FEDERAL PROCLAMATIONS AND STATUTES AND TREATIES CONCERNING THE LEGAL
PROCESS ENTRENCHED IN LAW DEFINING SPECIFIC RIGHTS AND GUARANTEES:
1. THE ROYAL CHARTER OF RUPERTS LAND 1670.
2. THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF GEORGE III 1763.
3. THE CONSTITUTIONAL ACT 31 GEORGE III SECTION XLV.
4. THE RUPERTS LAND ACT 31-32 VICTORIA 1868.
5. THE ORDER OF HER MAJESTY IN COUNCIL ADMITTING RUPERTS LAND,
SCHEDULE (A) OF RUPERTS LAND TRANSFER 1870.
6. THE BRITISH AMERICA ACT (1867)
SECTION (91 SUBSECTION Z4)
SECTION (109) (INTERESTS AND TRUSTS)
SECTION (146) (TERMS AND CONDITIONS)
7. THE INDIAN ACT s.c. 1868 (31 VICTORIA).
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE
SECRETARY OF STATE OF CANADA, AND FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF INDIAN
AND ORDINANCE LANDS, SECTIONS 1-11.
8. THE DOMINION LAND ACT 1872.
9. THE TREATY #7 ORDER IN COUNCIL: P. C. 650-12 JULY 1877.
RATTFIED BY ORDER IN COUNCIL: o.c. (NO NUMBER)-6 FEBRUARY 1878.
10. THE STATUTE OF WESTMINISTER 1930.
11. THE BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT 1930.
12. THE NATURAL RESOURCE TRANSFER ACT 1930.
THE FOLLOWING SUPPORT DOCUMENTS OUTLINE SPECIFIC CLAIMS IN REGARDS TO THE
RUPERTS LAND TRANSFER 1868:
1. INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF ALBERTA
REVISED RESOLUTION FEBRUARY 10, 1982.
2. UNRESOLVED ISSUES REGARDING CLAIMS MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE ORDER IN
COUNCIL OF JUNE 23, 1870 RUPERTS LAND TRANSFER.
3. PETITION TO THE IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT CONCERNING THE RESOLUTION OF INDIAN
CLAIMS ON THE TERRITORY KNOWN AS RUPERTS LAND.
INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF ALBERTA
REVISED RESOLUTION FEBRUARY 10th, 1982.
WHEREAS: THE HUDSON’S BAY COMPANY WAS GRANTED CERTAIN
PRIVILEGES BY THE IMPERIAL CROWN TO CARRY OUT
TRADE AND COMMERCE IN THAT TERRITORY KNOWN AS
AND WHEREAS: THE TERRITORY REFERRED TO AS RUPERT’S LAND HAS
ALWAYS BEEN RIGHTFULLY OWNED BY INDIANS IN
ACCORDANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AND INDIAN LAWS;
AND WHEREAS: PROVISIONS MADE IN SECTION. 146 OF THE BRITISH
NORTH AMERICA ACT FOR THE ADMISSION OF RUPERT’S
LAND AND NORTH WEST TERRITORIES INTO THE UNION
ON SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN EACH CASE AS ARE
IN THE ADDRESSES EXPRESSED;
AND WHEREAS: UNDER THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE IMPERIAL
ORDER-IN-COUNCIL THE TERRITORIES IN QUESTION
WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE DOMINION OF CANADA;
AND WHEREAS: THE CONDITIONS OF THIS TRANSFER STATED THAT:
1. CANADA IS TO PAY THE COMPANY L300,000
WHEN RUPERT’S LAND IS TRANSFERRED TO HIE
DOMINION OF CANADA . . . . .
“14. ANY CLAIMS OF INDIANS TO COMPENSATION
FOR LANDS REQUIRED FOR PURPOSES OF SETTLEMENT
SHALL BE DISPOSED OF BY THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT
IN COMMUNICATION WITH THE IMERIAL GOVERNMENT;
AND THE COMPANY SHALL BE RELIEVED OF ALL
RESPONSIBILITY IN RESPECT OF THEM.”
THE CLAIMS OF THE INDIAN TRIBES TO COMPENSATION
OF LANDS REQUIRED FOR THE PURPOSES OF SETTLEMENT
WILL BE CONSIDERED AND SETTLED IN CONFORMITY WITH
THE EQUITABLE PRINCIPLES WHICH HAVE UNIFORMLY
GOVERNED THE BRITISH CROWN WITH RESPECT TO
THIS SAME UNDERSTANDING BEING CLEARLY STATED
IN SCHEDULES A AND B OF THE ABOVE ORDER – IN
AND WHEREAS: THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT ABIDED BY THE ABOVE STATED
TERMS AND CONDITIONS;
AND WHEREAS: THE INDIANS ARE NOW ASSERTING CLAIMS ON SAID TERMS
AND WHEREAS: THESE POTENTIAL CLAIMS AFFECT ALL TREATY AND
THEREFORE WE RESOLVE THAT: WE HEREBY NOTICE UPON YOU
AND THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT OF OUR GENERAL CLAIM
RESPECTING THE RUPERT’S LAND TRANSFER;
AND WE FURTHER RESOLVE: AND SEEK YOUR SOLEMN COMMITTMENT THAT,
IN THE EVENT OF PATRIATION OF THE CONSTITUTION,
NEITHER THE RUPERT’S LAND CLAIM NOR ANY OTHER
CLAIMS, PAST, PRESENT OR FUTURE BY OUR PEOPLE
TO LANDS, RIGHTS OR RESOURCES WILL BE DENIED OR
ALTERED AS A RESULT OF CHANGES TO SECTION 146
OF THE CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER SECTION OF THE
CONSTITUTION, OR ANY OTHER ACT AFFECTING INDIAN
PEOPLE, THEIR RIGHTS, LANDS OR RESOURCES.
Unresolved Issues Regarding Claims Made on the
Basis of the Order in Council of June 23, 1870
The validity of the Royal Charter of May 2, 1670. It is arguable that
the Rupert’s Land Act, 1868 makes the validity of the Charter unchal-
lengeable for the purposes of the transfer of Rupert’s Land to Canada.
2. The extent of Rupert’s Land. Any territory transfercd to Canada in 1870
that was not part of Rupert’s Land was included in the North-Western
Territory. However, the boundary between the two territories has never
been determined. The main issues with regard to the boundary are the
interpretation of the Royal Charter itself and the extent of French
possession prior to 1763, the date when France ceded Canada to Britain.
3. The application of the terms and conditions contained in the Addresses
of December 16 and 17, 1867, and May 29 and 31,1869. The Order in
Council of June 23, 1870, appears to make the terms and conditions
contained in the first Address applicable only to the North-Western
Territory. The terms and conditions which apply to Rupertls Land are
those listed in the Order in Council itself. If the two territories
were admitted on different terms and conditions, then the issue of
the boundary between them is very relevant. The undertaking of the
Canadian Government in the second Address “to make adequate provision
for the protection of the Indian tribes whose interests and well-being
are involved in the transfer “is not incorporated into the Order in
Council. Arguably, therefore, that undertaking has no legal significance.
4. Interpretation of the terms and conditions contained in the Addresses.
The vagueness of the words used in the Addresses probably makes it
difficult to determine whether or not the terms and conditions have been
met. For exampleg what are “the equitable principles which have uniformly
governed the British Crown in its dealings with the aborigines”? Does
the term “aborigines” refer only to North American Indians or does it
include aborigines on other continents as well? Does the phrase “lands
required for purposes of settlement” include lands required for resource
development? What is meant by the phrase “adequate provision for the
protection of the Indian tribes”?
5. Force of the requirement that Canada dispose of Indian claims in Rupert’s
Land “in communication with the lmperial Government”. If this require-
ment is mandatory, it means that any settlements made without such
communication would be invalid. On the other hand, if it is merely
directory the Canadian Government could ignore it with impunity.
6. Constitutional status of the terms and conditions. Do they impose
constitutional restrictions on the powers of the Parliament of Canada,
or can they be overridden by Parliament in the same way as the treaties?
If the federal government’s proposed Constitutional Act, 1981 becomes
law then the Order in Council of 1870 will he entrenched in the new
constitution. This would mean that the guarantees contained in the Order
in Council could be taken away at any time in accordance with the
PETITION TO THE IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT
CONCERNING THE RESOLUTION OF INDIAN CLAIMS
ON THE TERRITORY KNOWN AS RUPERTS LAND
The Indian Nations, occupying the territory known as
Rupert’s Land HEREBY PETITION the Imperial Government to resolve
Indian Claims on the said territory prior to the patriation of
the Canadian Constitution, thereby discharging the Imperial trust
owed to Indian Nation, particulars of which are as foIlows:-
1. Prior to the coming of the European people to the territory
known as Rupert’s Land, our Indian Nations used and occupied
the land as our forefathers had done, sustaining our communi-
ties through activities of hunting, fishing, gathering and
2. In entering our territory, Great Britain was bound by the Law
of Nations. The Law of Nations dictated that only when Great
Britain entered upon uninhabited lands was she free to place
her flag and acquire the territory, asserting sovereignty
over the lands through settlement. Where the lands were aI-
ready inhabited, Great Britain was under an obligation in law
to acquire those lands through conquest or through cession.
3. Not long after Great Britain realized the existance of
vast territory known as Rupert’s Land; Imperial instructions
and grants were made to enable Great Britain to participate
in the rich fur trade.
On May 2nd, 1670 Charles II granted unto the Governor and
Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay:
. . .the sole Trade and Commerce of all those Seas Streightes Bayes
Rivers Lakes Creakes and Soundes in whatsoever Latitude they shall
be: that lie within the entrance of the Streightes commonly called
Hudsons Streightes together with all the Landes and Territories upon
the Countryes Coastes and confynes of the Seas Bayes Lakes Rivers
Creakes and Soundes aforesaid that are not already actually possessed
by or granted to any of our Subjectes or possessed by the Subjectess of
any other Christian Prince or State with the Fishing of all Sortes of Fish
Whales Sturgions and all other Royall Fishes in the Seas Bayes lsletes
and Rivers within the premisses and the Fish therein taken together
with the Royalty of the Sea upon the Coastes within the Lymittes
aforesaid and all Mynes Royall as well discovered as not discovered of
Cold Silver Gemms and pretious Stones to bee found or discovered
within the Territoryes Lymittes and Places aforesaid And that the said
Land bee from henceforth reckoned and reputed as one of our
Plantacions or Colonyes in America called Ruperts Land AND
FURTHER WEE DOE by these presentes for us our heires and
successors make create and constitute the said Governor and Company
for the tyme being and theire successors the true and absolute Lordes
and Proprietors of the same Territory lymittes and places aforesaid And
of all other the premisses SAVING ALWAYES the faith Allegiance and
Soveraigne Dominion due to us our heires and successors for the same
TO HAVE HOLD possesse and enjoy the said Territory lymittes and
places and all the singular other the premisses hereby granted as
aforesaid with theire and every of their Rightes Members Jurisdiccions
Prerogatives Royaltyes and Appurtenances whatsoever to them the said
Governor and Company and theire Successors for ever TO BEE
HOLDEN of us our heires and successors as of our Mannor of East
Greenwhich in our County of Kent in free and common Soccage and not
in Capite or by Knightes Service YEILDING AND PAYING yearely to
us our heires and Successors for the same two Elkes and two Black
beavers whensoever and as often as Wee our heires and successors shall
happen to enter into the said Countryes Territoryes and Regions hereby
4. In that part of the Charter set out above, Charles II made
the Company “the true and absolute Lordes and Proprietors” of
And that alsoe itt shall and may bee lawfull to and for them and the
greater part of them being soe assembled and that shall then and there
bee present in any such place or places whereof the Governor or his
Deputy for the tyme being to bee one to make ordeyne and constitute
such and soe many reasonable Lawes Constitucions Orders and
Ordinances as to them or the greater part of them being then and there
present shall seeme necessary and convenient for the good Government
of the said Company and of all Governors of Colonyes Fortes and
Plantacions Factors Masters Mariners and other Officers employed or to
bee employed in any of the Territoryes and Landes aforesaid and in any
of theire Voyages and for the better advancement and contynuance of
the said Trade or Traffick and Platacions.
The Charter authorized the Company to ordain and impose “such
paines penaltyies and punishments upon all offenders contrary
to such laws…” etc., and to empower its officers and ser-
vants to levy fines. Although the proceeds from these levies
were to be kept by the Company for its own use, this seeming-
ly unrestricted power was limited, in that the said laws and
fines were to be “reasonable and not contrary or repungnant
but as neare as may bee agreeable to the Lawes Statues or
Customes of this Our Realm.”
The Charter then went on to provide that the Territories
granted to the Company:
shall be ymediately and from henceforth under the power and
command of the said Governor and Company… and that the said
Governor and Company shall have liberty full Power and authority to
appoint and establish Governors and all other Of?cers to governe them
And that the Governor and his Councill of the severall and respective
places where the said Company shall have Plantacions Fortes Factoryes
Colonyes or Places of Trade within any the Countryes Landes or
Territoryes hereby granted may have power to judge all persons
belonging to the said Governor and Company or that shall live under
them in all Cause: whether Civill or Criminall according to the Lawes of
this Kingdome and to execute Justice accordingly.
5. Throughout this history Great Britain recognized and accepted
the sacred trust imposed under law to protect those Indian
Nations with which she was associated. In accordance with
Great Britains obligations, Imperial instructions to the
expeditions from the company included an order that treaties
be made with the Indians. These instructions were made in
spite of the fact that the Hudsons Bay Company was not
primarily interested in settlement, but only in the fur
The first treaty was concluded in 1668 between Zachariah
Gillam, Captain of the expedition to James Bay, and the
Indians around Rupert’s River from whom he purchased both the
river and the land thereabouts.
The most significant treaty in Rupert s Land concerned the
Red River area Indians and Lord Selkirk, to whom the Hudson’s
Bay Company had given 116,000 square miles for the establish-
ment of the Assiniboia colony.
In 1817 such treaty took place, with Lord Selkirk himself
entering into an agreement with four chiefs, by the terms of
which he was granted a tract, which included all the lands
adjacent to both the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
6. In further recongition and acceptance of the sacred trust,
the Imperial Government assumed the obligation to protect
those Indian Nations in unsurrendered land through instruc-
tions to the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company
enacted standing regulations #39, as follows:
That the Indians be treated with kindness and indulgence, and mild and
conciliatory means resorted to in order to encourage industry, repress
vice and inculcate morality; that the use of spiritous Liquors be
gradually discontinued in the few Districts in which it is yet
indispensable; and that the lndians be liberally supplied requisite
necessaries, particularly with articles of ammunition, whether they have
the means of paying for it or not; and that no Gentlemen in charge of
7. In further recognition and acceptance of the sacred trust,
George III enacted the Royal Proclamation of 1763. George
III enacted as law for all the colonies that for those
Indians who were living under the protection of Great Britain
and in association with her the lands belonging to the Indian
people would be reserved for them until the land was volun-
tarily ceded by the Indian Nations.
Although Rupert’s Land was expressly excluded as coming with-
in the boundaries of the newly designated Indian territory,
nevertheless paragraph #5 the Royal Proclamation applied to
Rupert’s Land, imposing an obligation to accomplish cession
of Indian territory through a process of a fair and open
And Whereas Great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in purchasing
Lands of the Indians, to the Great Prejudice of our Interests, and to the Great
Dissastisfaction of the said Indians; In order, therefore, to prevent such Irregularities
for the future, and to the End that the Indians may be convinced of our Justice and
determined Resolution to remove all reasonable Cause of Discontent, We do, with
the Advice of our Privy Council strictly enjoin and require, that no private Person
do presume to make any Purchase from the said Indians of any Lands reserved to
the said Indians, within those parts of our Colonies where, We have thought proper
to allow Settlement; but that, if at any Time any of the said Indians should be
inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be Purchased only for Us, in
our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for
the Purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony respectively
within which they shall lie; and in case they shall lie within the limits of any
Proprietary Government, they shall be purchased only for the Use and in the name
of such Proprietaries, conformable to such Directions and Instructions as We or
they shall think proper to give for the Purpose; And We do, by the Advice of our
Privy Council, declare and enjoin, that the Trade with the said Indians shall be free
and open to all our Subjects whatever, provided that every Person who may incline
to Trade with the said Indians do take out a licence for carrying on such Trade
from the Governor or Commander in Chief of any of our Colonies respectively
where such Person shall reside, and also give Security to observe such Regulations as
We shall at any Time think fit, by ourselves or by our Commissaries to be appointed
The Royal Proclamation has never been repealed and continues
to be a fundamental constitutional law in Canada and in Great
8. In further recognition and acceptance of the sacred trust,
and pursuant to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, treaties were
concluded with various Indian Nations and Her Royal Majesty.
These treaties were made not only in Rupert’s Land but
throughout the territory known as Canada because Great
Britain recognized and accepted that the sacred trust applied
to all Indian Nations.
9. In 1837, a Select Committee was appointed by the House of
Commons to consider the measures to be adopted with regard to
the Indian Nations in areas where British settlement was
occuring. The select Committee’s report was published June
26, 1837. In further recognition and acceptance of the
trust, and on the basis of national interest, no encroachment
on the territory or disregard of the rights of the Indian
Nations was to be allowed. General regulations were set out
in the report. The protection of the Indian Nations was con-
sidered a duty:
“…particularly belonging and appropriate to the
Executive Government as administered either in this
country (Great Britain) or by the governors of their.
respective colonies. This is not a trust which could
conveniently be confided through local legislation.”
10. The Indian Nations did not participate in the constitutional
conferences leading up to Confederation. Nevertheless, the
special status of the Indian Nations was preserved through
the operation or the trust which the Imperial Government held
and exercised on behalf of the Indian Nations. When the Con-
stitution of 1867 was formed, the Imperial Trust was
entrenched in the Constitution.
Under Section 91(24) of the British North America Act, Great
Britain delegated the administration of the Trust to the
Federal Government. Under Section 109 the Provinces were
given the resources of the Province subject to existing
trusts, namely the Indian land title. Great Britain retained
the power to amend the British North America Act, thereby
holding the balance of power in check and making it impos-
sible for either the Federal or Provincial Governments to
terminate the Trust and leave the Indian Nations unprotected
11. When British Columbia entered Confederation, Great
Britain preserved the operation of the lmperial trust
governing British Columbia in the B.N.A. Act.
By Clause 13 of the Terms of Union, the Indians were made
wards of the Federal Government with lands reserved for them
being held in trust by that Government. The Clause states:
The charge of the lndians, and the trusteeship and management
of the lands reserved for their use and benefit, shall be assumed by the
Dominion Government, and a policy as liberal as that hitherto pursued
by the British Columbia Government shall be continued by the
Dominion Government after the Union.
To carry out such policy, tracts of land of such extent as it has
hitherto been the practice of the British Columbia Government to
appropiate for that purpose, shall from time to time be conveyed by
the Local Government to the Dominion Government in trust for the
use and benefit of thc Indians on application oi the Dominions
Government; and in case of disagreement between the two
Governments respecting the quantity of such tracts of land to be so
granted, the matter shall be referred for the decision of the Secretary of
State for the Colonies.
12. When Rupert’s land entered Confederation the Great Britain
preserved the operation of the Imperial trust governing
Rupert’s Land in the British North America Act.
13. By the Rupert‘s Land Act, 1868, the Imperial Parliament
enabled Her Majesty to accept a surrender, upon terms, of the
lands, privileges, and rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Section 5 gave the Crown power, by order-in-council, to
declare that Rupert’s Land be admitted as part of the
Dominion of Canada and provided that, thereupon:
…it shall be lawful for the Parliament of Canada from the Date
aforesaid to make, ordain, and establish within the Land and Territory
so admitted as aforesaid all such laws, institutions, and Ordinances, and
to constitute such Courts and Officers, as may be necessary (or the
Peace, Order, and good Government of Her Majesty’s Subjects and
4. Section 146 of the B.N.A. Act, 1867, allowed for
the admission of Rupert’s Land into the Union, stating:
… and the provisions of any Order in Council in that behalf shall have
effect as if they had been enacted by the Parliament of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
5. On November 19, 1869, the Company, by deed surrendered to the
…all the rights of government, and other rights, privileges, liberties
and franchises, powers and authorities, granted or purported to be
granted by [the Charter of 1670] …and all the lands and territories
within Rupert’s Land …granted or purported to be granted to the
said Governor and Company by the said [Charter]….
By Imperial Order-in-Council dated June 23, 1870, it was
ordered that Rupert’s Land was to become part of Canada on
July 15, 1870:
…upon the following terms and conditions, being the terms and
conditions still remaining to be performed of those embodied in the
said second address of the Parliament of Canada, and approved by Her
Majesty as aforesaid:- 1. Canada is to pay to the Company 300,000l.
When Rupert’s Land is transferred to the Dominion of Canada….14.
Any claims of Indians to compensation for lands required for purposes
of settlement shall be disposed of by the Canadian Government
17. The Order-in-Council had been preceded by two Addresses, pre-
sented to Her Majesty from the Senate and House of Commons
and which were incorporated respectively in Schedules A and B
of the Order, The first Address, dated December, 1867,
prayed for the transfer of Rupert‘s Land to Canada and
… that, upon the transference of the territories in question to the
Canadian Government, the claims of the Indian tribes to compensation
for Lands required for purposes of settlement will be considered and
settled in conformity with the equitable principles which have
uniformly governed the British Crown in its dealings with the
18. Prior to the second Address, the Senate and House of Commons
passed a series of resolutions (also included in Schedule B),
one of which stated:
Resolved, – That upon the transference oithe territories in question to
the Canadian Government, it will be the duty of the Government to
make adequate provision for the protection of the lndian tribes whose
interests and well-being are involved in the transfer.
19. The second Address, dated May, 1869, sought the transfer of
Rupert’s Land upon “the terms and conditions” expressed in
the resolutions, one of which resolved:
That upon the transference of the territories in question to the
Canadian Government it wi? be our duty to make adequate provision
for the protection of the Indian tribes whose interests and well-being
are involved in the transfer, and we authorize and empower the
Governor-in-Council to arrange any details that may be necessary to
tarry out the terms and conditions of the above agreement.
20. In both the resolutions and second Address, the Senate and
House of Commons approved the terms of the agreement between
the Government of Canada and the Hudson’s Bay Company
relating to the transfer, as did the Governor-in-Council.
These terms are set out in Schedule B and include, amongst
other provisions, the following:
8. lt is understood that any claims of Indians to compensation for lands
required for purposes of settlement shall be disposed of by the
Canadian Government, in communication with the lmperial
Government, and that the Company shall be relieved of all
responsibility in respect of them.
21. In the deed of the Company’s surrender of Rupert’s Land to
Her Majesty (Schedule C to the Order), it is also stated:
And whereas Her said Majesty Queen Victoria and the said Governor
and Company have agreed to terms and conditions upon which the said
Governor and Company shall surrender to Her said Majesty…all the
rights of Government and other rights, [etc]…and all the lands and
territories granted or purported to be granted by the [Charter]….
And whereas the said terms and conditions on which it has been agreed
that the said surrender nis to be made by the said Governor and
Company (who are in the following articles designated as the Company)
to her said Majesty are as follows (that is to say): 14. Any claims of
Indians to compensation for lands required for purposes of settlement
shall be disposed of by the Canadian Government in communication
with the Imperial Government; and the Company shall be relieved of all
responsibility in respect of them. And whereas the surrender hereinafter
contained is intended to be made in pursuance of the agreement, and
The Indian Nations in Rupert’s Land have outstanding claims
on Rupert’s Land which have not been resolved, in spite of
our repeated and persistant attempts to do so with the
Governments of Canada. These claims include the resolution
of Indian title in unceded areas of Rupert’s Land as well as
unresolved areas of dispute concerning treaty interpreta-
tion. Particulars of the claims will be provided forthwith:
THEREFORE, THE INDIAN NATIONS OP RUPERT’S LAND PETITION:
1. THAT the Imperial Government communicate the Royal Process
whereby the outstanding claims may be brought forward to the
Imperial government for final determination.
2. THAT the Imperial Government honour its legal obligations to
the Indian Nations of Rupert’s Land by refraining from
patriating the Canadian Constitution until all claims on
Rupert’s Land are determined, and the Imperial trust owed to
our Indian Nations in Rupert’s Land is properly discharged.
3. THAT the Imperial Government honour its legal obligations to
the Indian Nations of Canada by refraining from patriating
the Canadian Constitution until the Imperial trust is dis-
charged in accordance with the Bill of Particulars trans-
mitted to the Imperial Government by the Indian Nations in
ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.
Leave a Reply