Métis-Crown Relations Through an International Treaty Lens

Brenda Gunn, Bryn Rieger


From 16th century, through until the 19th century, European nations signed many treaties with Indigenous peoples based on mutual understandings, grounded in both European and Indigenous legal principles, recognizing Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty and capacity to enter into Treaties. Despite this early international treaty-making context, there is often an assumption that Indigenous peoples lacked the international standing to conclude international treaties with other (European) nations. It is further assumed that Métis people never concluded treaties with the Crown. This article argues that the agreement that led to the passing of the Manitoba Act, 1870 meets the requirements for a valid treaty in international law, based on international law at the time. This article builds off growing literature that recognizes Indigenous-state treaties as international in character. Recognizing the international character of the agreement is critical to re-establishing the nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Métis peoples.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5663/aps.v6i2.29204

Support: Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada