Treaties continue to be the foundation upon which First Nations and their fellow Canadians enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of living in Canada.
All Manitobans benefit from the Treaty relationship, although there are misconceptions that only First Nations are beneficiaries at times. For example, Canada gained peaceful access to lands for settlement, farming, railways, and development through Treaties. Access to these areas led to peaceful settlement in the west with minimal costs for westward growth and prevented costly wars with First Nations peoples. Treaties also protected western lands by creating a barrier to American expansion.
So, in a nutshell, the Treaties gave generations of Canadians access to land and resources to farm, live, and enjoy Canada’s prosperity. Like the settlers, First Nations also made Treaties with an eye toward the future. First Nations wanted to secure a partnership that would ensure the survival of their nations. First Nations also hoped that Treaties would establish peaceful and equitable relations with newcomers. First Nations also wanted the Treaties to protect their unique cultural and spiritual traditions as distinct nations. Furthermore, First Nations believed that the Treaties would facilitate the transition to a new lifestyle that was taking hold at the end of the 19th century. First Nations saw Treaties as a bridge to the future and a way to provide for succeeding generations.
Your Great Mother, therefore, will lay aside for you ‘lots’ of land to be used by you and your children forever. She will not allow the white man to intrude upon these ‘lots’. She will make rules to keep them for you, so that, as long as the sun shines, there shall be no Indian who has not a place that he can call his home, where he can go and pitch his camp, or if he chooses, build his house and till his land.Lieutenant-Governor A.G. Archibald, August 3rd, 1871, Lower Fort Garry