First Nations were the original occupants of this land we call Ontario. The British Crown (government) and First Nations negotiated and signed treaties with the intent of delivering mutual benefits. First Nations signed as independent, self-governing nations.

Despite the promise of early treaties and the mutually respectful partnerships they established, Indigenous peoples were targeted by colonial policies designed to exploit, assimilate, and eradicate them.

Today, the Ontario Government is working to rebuild trust and relationships with treaty partners and Indigenous peoples.

Part of that effort includes educating Ontarians about the role treaties play in our lives and relationships with each other today.

In 1763, King George III of Great Britain issued The Royal Proclamation, confirming the original occupancy of Indigenous peoples and paving the way for land agreements between the British Crown (government) and Indigenous peoples.

The proclamation:

  • established how the British would manage land in North America following the Seven Years War
  • proclaimed that settlers could not live on the land until the Crown had signed treaties with the First Nations who occupied the territories

Among the earliest treaties was the 1764 Treaty of Fort Niagara, which put a renewed focus on peaceful relations between the British and First Nations, affirming and extending alliances. The goal was to support military and commercial relationships between the parties. Many First Nations upheld this alliance by supporting Britain in the War of 1812, ensuring the survival of British North America.

Treaty rights:

  • are the specific rights embodied in the treaties that were entered into with the British government, and later Canada
  • often address the creation of reserves for the exclusive use of First Nations, and their rights to hunt, fish and trap on provincial Crown lands
  • are protected by subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982

Learn more about treaties and treaty relationships across Canada.