The Royal Proclamation of 1763
The next graphic Colonialism looks at is the history surrounding the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The skateboard graphic features the original document which King Henry 3rd issued on October 7th, 1763. The Royal Proclamation gave way to the governing on Turtle Island (North America) which was surrendered by France to the British after the Seven Years’ War. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 recognizes Aboriginal rights to the lands, and it affirmed that these rights would continue to exist into the future. The Royal Proclamation is also called “The Indian Bill of Rights” or the “Indian Magna Carta” (Royal Proclamation). The Royal Proclamation set out the framework to negotiate Treaties with First Nations peoples living on Turtle Island. The Proclamation is also referenced in Section 25 of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982.
The Royal Proclamation defined the land West of the Appalachian Mountains as Indigenous lands and Americans, or European settlers, could not claim or settle on those lands. Although some Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples living in Canada have stated the Royal Proclamation was unilaterally decided by King Henry 3rd and had no consent from First Nations peoples living on Turtle Island. According to Dr. John Borrows, “First Nations were not passive objects, but active participants, in the formulation and ratification of the Royal Proclamation” (Borrows). First Nations people helped in various ways in the formation of the Royal Proclamation. Lawyers, scholars, and Indigenous people say the Royal Proclamation continues to be valid in Canadian Law, because “no other law has overruled it” (Indigenous Foundations).
The 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation was in 2013. The Canadian government at that period mentioned the Royal Proclamation only once during their time in power. There was a celebration of this anniversary and First Nations leaders said, “First Nations had the right to stay on the land that they occupy, and the Crown was to protect that right.” The Assembly of First Nations National Chief Atleo added, “There was a promise from the Crown that they would support and protect Indigenous Nations from the behavior of Colonial governments”. He also went on to say, “The treaty relationships and aspirations that were expressed in the Royal Proclamation are about us sharing the land, wealth, and resources of this country. That has not happened” (Hall). The NDP Leader at that time, Tom Mulcair, said the celebration is, “the 250th anniversary of broken promises” (MacKinnon).
What has been done and what still needs to be done regarding the Royal Proclamation and Treaty agreements with the relationship between the Nation-to-Nation agreements with the Crown and Indigenous peoples is still an ongoing issue on Turtle Island. The colonial governments which include Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments continue to violate Treaty Rights throughout the lands when it comes to resources and sharing the land. These rights are protected in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, Section 35 which states: “35. (1) The existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights (Aboriginal title [ownership rights to land], rights to occupy and use lands and resources, such as hunting and fishing rights, etc.) of Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed” (Canadian Constitution). Colonial governments, corporations, and police services continue to violate the Canadian Constitution Act daily when it comes to Indigenous rights protected under the Royal Proclamation which have been affirmed in the Canadian Constitution.
The Royal Proclamation says, “And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians, with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to, or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds” (Royal Proclamation). The numbered Treaties were signed with First Nations and the Crown but in parts of the country like British Columbia which is considered unceded territory and no treaty was signed by the Crown to allow settlers to occupy that land, some argue it is not considered a part of Canada.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is an important legal document that no other law in the country has overruled. This significant legal document has positively shaped the country by creating Treaties with the Indigenous population and has impacted Canadian law. It’s a shame that Canada and colonial governments used it to acquire full political control over the country, by occupying the country with settlers, stealing land and resources, and continuing to exploit it economically by not sharing the land or resources which were promised under Treaty rights.
Borrows, J. (n.d.). Wampum at Niagara - Simon Fraser University. Retrieved from https://www.sfu.ca/~palys/Borrows-WampumAtNiagara.pdf
Branch, L. S. (2022, June 29). Consolidated federal laws of canada, the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982. Legislative Services Branch. Retrieved from https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-13.html
MacKinnon, L. (2013, October 7). Canada's 'Indian Magna Carta,' turns 250 | CBC News. CBCnews. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/royal-proclamation-of-1763-canada-s-indian-magna-carta-turns-250-1.1927667
Hall, A. (2019). Royal Proclamation of 1763. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/royal-proclamation-of-1763
Royal Proclamation, 1763. Indigenous Foundations. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/royal_proclamation_1763/#:~:text=The%20Royal%20Proclamation%20is%20a,won%20the%20Seven%20Years%20War