Justice will allow live broadcast of Robinson Huron Treaty case from court

Monday, January 8th, 2018 5:19pm

Justice will allow live broadcast of Robinson Huron Treaty case from court

Robinson Huron Treaty Nations are applauding a court decision that will allow a livestream of their annuity case from Superior Court in Sudbury beginning Jan. 10.

While the court has already heard from Anishinaabe Elders and experts on items including Anishinaabe law, oral history and ceremonies, government witnesses are expected to take the stand this week.

Reconciliation was the main reason cited by Justice Patricia Hennessy for her Jan. 5 decision for allowing the livestream from the courtroom and then archived.

“Collectively, as Canadians, we suffer a deficit in understanding our history and our relationship with our Indigenous neighbors,” said Justice Hennessy in her decision. “Creating and preserving an audiovisual record of this evidence increases its usefulness and accessibility. It is a significant contribution to our national understanding.” 

 The Treaty case concerns the interpretation of an annuity “augmentation” clause in the Robinson Treaties, signed in 1850.  The clause provides for the increase of annuities paid to First Nations under the treaties, if resource revenues allow for such an increase without incurring a loss.

 The trial started in Thunder Bay in September 2017, and has moved throughout the treaty territory, including First Nation communities at Manitoulin Island and Garden River, near Sault Ste. Marie, the site of the Treaty signing in 1850.  

The Anishinaabek communities took Ontario and Canada to court over the Crown’s failure to implement the terms of the treaty. At issue is that the beneficiaries have received no increase to the four-dollar annuity since 1874, despite the financial profits derived from the land that the government(s) have enjoyed for more than 140 years, reads a statement from the 21 Robinson Huron Treaty First Nations.

Ogimaa Duke Peltier, of the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Trust, says, “We see this case as involving the resurgence of the Robinson Huron Treaty Anishinaabek peoples, and we are pleased that the Judge sees it as important enough to make sure that it is broadcast widely to our communities, who are scattered across the territory and cannot easily make it into court.”

Ogimaa Peltier added, “The evidence presented in this case is a vast amount of knowledge about the treaty and the history of this territory. First Nations citizens, especially our youth who are active in social media, ought to be able to access and view this case from wherever they are.  It is also important for non-Indigenous Canadians, who have benefited from the Robinson Treaties, to be aware of their history.”

Spokesperson Chief Dean Sayers agrees with Ogimaa Peltier and says the decision is history in the making. Sayers says the decision also brings the hearings home for Anishinaabek citizens.

“We want our people to hear what they said. The courts call it evidence, but what these Elders and experts are sharing are our stories, our history and our collective knowledge. We are glad that, through the livestreaming and archived videos, these testimonies will be preserved and shared with our young people for generations to come.”

The livestream and archived videos will be available at: http://livestream.com/firsttel.