Treaty Five

1. Why was a treaty required in this time and place?

The treaty was required at this time to allow for the people currently residing in Canada to move west and settle lands that were not directly under control of the Government of Canada at the time. The place is west of present day Ontario so including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta as they are now called is largely inhabited by aboriginal peoples. So the treaty is required to allow people to move west and settle the land without getting into conflicts with the aboriginal peoples that already live there. Also the treaty starts the census system of Canada by gathering the accurate census of all the aboriginals on those lands that were ceded to them as reserves. The treaty also brings the aboriginals into the jurisdiction of the queen of England making them loyal subjects to the crown like most of the British people in Canada at the time.

2. What First Nations were included in this treaty?

This treaty included First Nations tribes located in the northern regions of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. In particular, it included Saulteaux and Swampy Cree tribes including the number of bands that inhabited the Beren’s River region and the Norway House region. The Berens River flows through the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario and Norway House is a region located north of Lake Winnipeg. These native groups continuously proposed an opening of treaty negotiations, but the federal government held back until new developmental priorities turned commercial attentions northward or until southern political questions extended to the north.

Treaty 5 map

3. What did these people want from the treaty process?

The aboriginal people that were included in treaty 5 wanted nothing more than what had already been offered to other first nations group under the original treaties. The people in and around Lake Winnipeg had not been included under previous agreements. They wanted recognition of their claim to the area as well as certain hunting and fishing rights. Other groups around those included in treaty 5 had also received “treaty money” and this was also a demand made by some groups. There were also two demands from specific bands that made the signing of this treaty somewhat unique. The band at Beren’s River had demanded construction tools in addition to the monetary payment. Another band at Norway House also requested permission to migrate from their location at the time.  A major form of the employment at Norway House was the Hudson’s Bay Company and with the company’s selling of Rupert’s land it no longer required the labour from this band. The band ultimately did relocate.

4. What did the government want from the treaty process?


5. What were the treaties core provisions?

The Saulteaux and Swampy Cree surrender the land and all their rights and privileges to the it beginning at the northern junction between Treaties 1 and 3, then easterly along the border of Treaty 3 to “Height of Land.” At the point dividing the waters of the Albany and Winnipeg Rivers; followed north along the “Height of Land ” to a point at 53 degrees north. Then northwest to Favourable Lake; following the eastern shore of the lake to its northernmost point. Favourable Lake west to Robinson’s Portage and northwesterly through Cross Lake, Foxes Lake and Split Lake; then south-west to Pipestone Lake on the Burntwood River; then southwest to John Scott’s Lake, the north shore of Beaver Lake, and the west end of Cumberland Lake. Finally, from Cumberland Lake south to the Saskatchewan River, then due south to the northwest corner of the northern limits of Treaty No. 4, including all territory within the mentioned limits. The area is approximately 100000 square miles.

In return for surrendering their lands each family of five would receive 160 acres for farming. The government retained the right to sell or lease these reserve lands or to appropriate them for government use. The natives retained the right to hunt, fish and trap on land covered in the treaty except for areas where mining, lumber and settling was of importance.

Annuities to be paid annually were five dollars per person, fifteen dollars for a head man and twenty-five dollars per chief. Five hundred dollars would be granted annually for ammunition and twine and chiefs and headmen would be provided with clothing every three years. A presentation of five hundred dollars per head and farm stock, tools, equipment and flags was to be made once. It was also stipulated that no alcohol should be introduced or sold on reserve land.

Each family living and farming on a reserve would be granted: Two hoes, one scythe, once axe, one pitsaw, one hand saw, one cross cut saw, one grindstone and one spade for every family actually cultivating. For every ten families cultivating a plow was granted; five harrows for every twenty families cultivating. Each chief and his band would be given one chest of carpenters tools and enough wheat, barley, potatoes and oats to plant the land up for cultivation. Each band would also receive one yoke of oxen, one bull and four cows to encourage the agricultural practices of each band.

6. What is the status of the treaty today?

According to the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, today, as with other numbered treaties, Treaty Five is considered to be the basic foundation for the relationship between First Nations groups of the region and the rest of Canada. Upon this relationship, the First Nations groups and the Provincial and Federal Governments use the treaty as guide to resolve issues and maintain good relations between all parties involved. However, since Treaty Five?s final boundary definitions that were outlined in 1910, a recurring depute has resulted over the original allocation of small reserve lands and the small annuities that were granted to the various First Nations bands in an area where fertile lands for agriculture were already not plenty. The reserve lands and annuities allocated by the Canadian Government were viewed as extremely minimal, and significantly lower to that which was allocated in other numbered treaties (only 160 acres of land allocated to a family of five). In addition to the land disputes, in more recent decades, issues of the frequent flooding of reserve lands have arisen due to the development of many Provincial hydroelectric projects.

Treaty 5 100 years

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