Treaty Nine – The James Bay Treaty
The James Bay Treaty
- Why was a treaty required in this time and place?
In 1905, as a result of Canadian westward expansion, construction of a national railway, and increased activity in mining, the Canadian Government wished to promote settlement in northern Ontario. The problem with this was that the area was inhabited by first nations people. The Government entered into negotiations with the first nations people there in an effort to negotiate a treaty that would relocate the first nations people to a dedicated land claim elsewhere.
- What First Nations were included in this treaty?
The Chapleau Ojibways, and the Chapleau Cree First Nations were key groups involved in the James Bay treaty No. 9. The Ojibways and Crees were important groups in Ontario that signed the treaty, representing their people, and agreeing with the government’s terms. However, a number of various Indian reserves were involved in this treaty, including the Attawapiskat band, which is currently being represented by Theresa Spence in her hunger strike. First Nations representatives from several reserves including, Metachewan, Abitibi, Metagami, and long lake, all played a role in signing and agreeing with the terms of treaty No. 9.
- What did these people want from the treaty process?
The Mishkeegogamang Nation’s people demanded basically two guaranteed rights from this treaty process. They wanted to ensure that their people could still live on their traditional lands and that they could continue their practices of hunting and fishing on these lands. In other words, these people wanted to preserve their long established lifestyles. These concerns were brought forward to the negotiations by Daniel Missabay, the recognized Chief of the band. After negotiations, the First Nation groups were ensured that they would be able to continue to live in their traditional ways and as a result of this promise they agreed to sign Treaty 9.
- What did the government want from the treaty process?
The main aim of the government was to acquire the first nations land in northern Ontario beyond that already gained in previous treaties and to redistribute the first nation’s people to reserves. The government wanted this land for European settlers to continue expansion through the province and reserved the right to build on it. Railways specifically but also other buildings or public works could be built as the government saw fit whether at the time the treaty was signed or at any point in the future.
- What were the treaties core provisions?
Because of the expansion of the railway up in the northern parts of Quebec and Ontario, the treaty was established to show the core provisions of the land claim that the aboriginals people will settle in the Quebec and Ontario. The provision of the treaty they decide to have reserves in Onasburg, Fort Hope, Marten Falls, English river, and Port Albany, Moose Factory and New post.
- What is the status of the treaty today?
The James Bay Treaty, or better known as treaty number nine, is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit in mid 2011. The Mishkeegomang peoples said that the chief who signed the treaty did not speak English and did not have any lawyers present at the time. The chief had trusted and believed that the people of the crown would strengthen the people’s weaknesses, which is why he had signed it. The promises that they were given in 1905 were no longer in tact. There are currently no high schools for the Mish people who are confined to two small reserves. The children who want to attend high school have to travel far distances from their reserves. The dams that were involved in the treaty flooded Mish people’s lands and homes. They argue that their ancestors did not sign them up to administer poverty to their people. There is a lot of oral promises that were made and found in diaries of some of the elders that allowed the ancestors to hunt wherever they pleased and weren’t restricted to territory that was taken away in the Far North Act.