First Nations came to the negotiation table with concerns about the treaty process, and the rights they would be granted after signing. Concern especially centered on the ability to maintain their right to a traditional way of living, including their right to hunt, trap and fish. This aspect was especially integral to the communities’ reception of the treaty, as in general, agriculture was not a viable way of life in this region (Dickason, 2006).
You can read the original text of Treaty 8 here.
Clifford Sifton’s Report on Treaty 8 – 22 September 1899:
Below are points excerpted from Clifford Sifton’s report on the Treaty 8 negotiations, submitted to the Federal Crown on September 22, 1899. They summarize the terms requested by First Nations for Treaty 8:
- Aid for years when food sources were lacking
- Assistance in caring for elderly
- Educational facilities for children, without religious interference
- Continued right (Sifton uses the term ‘Privileges’) to hunt and fish
- Access to medicine and a doctor
- To fix annuity provisions at Treaty 6 prices
- Ammunition and twine for those who wished to farm
Despite Sifton noting the request of the First Nations for medical provisions and doctors to be made available to the communities agreeing to treaty, there is no written provision in Treaty 8 documenting those concerns (Dickason, 2006). Other points of contention over the treaty discussed in person versus the actual document submitted to Ottawa also include the:
- Extinguishment of aboriginal title
- Usufructuary rights* to hunt, fish, and trap as was done traditionally prior to treaty
- Promised aid in agricultural and animal-rearing efforts not being provided when requested (Dickason, 2006)
* Usufructary right is defined as: one having the use or enjoyment of something.