In Canada today there remain several misconceptions regarding what
exactly Treaty Indians are entitled to and why. It is difficult to understand why
these misconceptions have been generated but it is clear that there exists
a lot of misunderstanding amongst Canadians when it comes down to the role
of First Nations in our modern society. Most of these misconceptions
seem to be rooted in a belief that somehow First Nations peoples are
treated with extra special care by the government due to the treaties and
their claim to be the first inhabitants of this land. It is
unfortunate but these types of misconceptions and lack of a general
understanding of events surrounding the treaties has generated a great
deal of mistrust and embitterment between the First Nations peoples and
those citizens considered to be of European descent. There are two
sides to every story, and here we would like to engage you in both sides
in an attempt to reach a further understanding.
Misconception: Treaty Indians are entitled to great sums of money
and special educational and career incentives from the government,
seemingly on demand.
Reality: Treaty Indians are not entitled to unlimited funds
and free handouts. The annual treaty payment is still a nominal payment of
Misconception: Hunting and fishing rights are exclusionary and unfair for
other Canadians as the First Nations peoples are allowed unlimited hunting
and fishing captures.
Reality: Hunting and fishing rights are an extension of common practices of pre-treaty life
Misconception: Treaty rights are in existence because the First Nations
peoples cannot take care of themselves and rely on the government for
their day to day needs.
rights are in existence because the Canadian government approached the
First Nations peoples to enter into treaty in order to open up large
tracts of Canadian land to settlement from abroad. Treaties are legal
contracts devised by the government of Canada and adhered to by those
members of First Nations bands who saw fit to settle with the federal
government and enter a new way of life.
These issues are hotly debated amongst many Canadians and can be, at
times, difficult to understand and accept at face value. The role of
Canada's First Nations peoples is an integral and important part of our
countries past. It is important for all Canadians to understand and
discuss these issues openly so that we can appreciate the rich legacy the
First Nations peoples of Canada bring to our country and the world.