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Report / Treaties, Rights and Title

Treaty Interpretation in the Age of Restoule

After over a century of attempts to compel the Crown to honour the 1850 Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior Treaties. Anishinaabe Plaintiffs in the Restoule Case have made advancements in Ontario courts in the re-consideration and re-interpretation of these foundational historic treaties. At issue in the most recent years of the litigation has been the “augmentation” clause relating to treaty annuities; more specifically, the Crown’s failure to increase the annuity payments.

The Special Report begins with a discussion between Rachel Arsenault and Ogimaa Duke Peltier on the context of that failure, the rationale for litigation, and attempts to bring Indigenous protocols into the court. In “Interpreting Historic Treaties: Restoule at the Ontario Court of Appeal,” Tejas Madhur, Blair Feltmate, and Brianna McCann offer an overview of the legal history that was outlined in the trial decision and on appeal. They provide a more precise look at how the Ontario Court of Appeal applied a textual analysis of the historical promises of the Robinson Treaties. In “Trial by Ishkode: Treaty Remedies in Restoule,” David Gill and Kaelan Unrau offer an analysis of the relationship between Anishinaabe and Canadian law that comes to a confluence of sorts in the Restoule case. Lastly, this Special Report ends with a Conclusion by Robert Janes, Q.C. who illustrates that with Restoule, there is a change; it marks a departure from the colonial vision of treaties towards a re-interpretation that could result in a genuine engagement with Indigenous perspectives on historic treaties in the courts.

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