Lack of Access to Education

Events Leading to Treaty 10 Negotiations


Indian Commissioner David Laird outlined that the government was delaying bringing First Nations people at Ile à la Crosse under treaty because there was no imminent prospect of the region being settled or developed by Euro-Canadians.

This approach was an extension of the Department of Indian Affairs policy that had been established during the Macdonald era of leaving First Nations and Metis people alone unless an influx of settlers took occupation or the political status of a region changed. The government did this to reduce their financial and legal obligations to Indigenous peoples, and it demonstrates that the government did not consider the well-being of Indigenous people a priority - many were requesting treaty because they were in need of food and medical care, and also desired resources for education. Environmental and social changes due to the presence of colonizers dramatically changed the access to food and resources. Bison populations plummeted, being influenced by the Fur Trade and settlement in the Mid-West which not only interrupted migration patterns, but resulted in over-hunting and culls. Despite the need for assistance, treaty negotiations did not start until 1906.
Sub Event
David Laird’s Rationale for Treaty being Delayed at Île-à-la-Crosse and Surrounding Area

Creation of the Province of Saskatchewan


With the establishment of the province of Saskatchewan there was new incentive to extinguish Aboriginal title over the territory encompassed in the new province. In 1905 Inspector of Indian Agencies William J. Chisholm recommended settling a treaty to to those nations in the North who had not yet signed onto an existing treaty. This led to treaty negotiations and ultimately the conclusion of Treaty 10 in 1906. Discussion began about the best method of extending treaty rights to Aboriginal peoples in the Ile a la Crosse region. Two options included extending Treaty 8 or initiating a new treaty agreement.

This decision represents a common governmental strategy during the treaty-making era. Treaties were only negotiated when they were beneficial to or viewed as necessary by the Canadian government. However, Indigenous groups in the area had been requesting treaties for years, as they were in need of food and medical care, and also desired Western education. During the process of negotiation, First Nations leaders relied on interpreters and oral agreements during the negotiations since they did not speak or write English fluently. Some of these agreements were not included in the written documents. And, although Indigenous people did not cede their rights to the land, government officials recorded in the written document that they had. In exchange for transfer of title, the Dominion of Canada, on behalf of the Queen, promised to provide one-time presents, annual annuities, annual salaries for chiefs, reserves, farming implements, the construction of schools, aid (in times of famine/epidemic) and guarantees of hunting, trapping and fishing rights. The Canadian Government would later avoid implementing aspects of the written treaty document to curb their spending. As such, after negotiation, problems surrounded the implementation of the numbered treaties in the province of Saskatchewan. In the subsequent years and decades many First Nations signatories reported that the government was not living up to the terms of treaty which included provision of aid in times of famine, provision of medical care and preservation of livelihood and their sovereignty.

NA, RG10, vol. 4009, file 241,209-I, Chisholm's Report, quoted in Laird to MacLean, 7 October 1905.