Several laws have been given to us by the Creator. In modern times, we have felt the need to write down some especially important laws given the shared jurisdiction of territory and people in the 55,000 square miles dealt with under Treaty #3. One of the more important jurisdictional disputes is lands and resources. Below is the Great Earth Law, Manito Aki Inakonigaawin. On October 9, 2008, the Chiefs in Assembly, through consensus, affirmed that any and all consultation approaches with our communities shall be framed by this law.
The communities support Grand Council efforts to facilitate any consultation with our communities through the Resource Law. This is accomplished by the Lands and Resources Team and the Office of the Ogichidaa (Political office). Key staff has been hired in order to make this direction a reality.
Grand Council Treaty # 3 and Development in the Treaty # 3 Territory
Grand Council Treaty # 3 is the traditional government of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3. By treaty with Her Majesty in 1873, the Nation shared its duties and responsibilities and protected its rights respecting 55,000 square miles of territory. The Anishinaabe Nation did not surrender any rights of self-government and so continue to exercise its traditional government. But the Canadian and provincial governments historically have tried to undermine Anishinaabe government based on a denial of its jurisdiction.
In recent years however, the Canadian government recognizes that the Constitution Act, 1982, supported by recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions, clearly establishes that the jurisdiction of Anishinaabe government continues to exist. Therefore, the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3 maintains rights to all lands and water in the Treaty # 3 territory commonly referred to Northwestern Ontario and south-eastern Manitoba. Accordingly, any development in the Treaty # 3 Territory such as, but not limited to, forestry, mining, hydro, highways and pipeline systems that operate in the Treaty # 3 Territory require the consent, agreement and participation of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3.
In exercising its authority, the Grand Council expresses concern with proponents (corporations, developers etc) who carry out business activities that may result in destruction to the environment or interfere with the traditional activities of individual or collective members of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3. We agree with the Supreme Court of Canada that ultimate liability lies with the Crown.
Grand Council Treaty # 3 recognizes the potential for adversely affecting the exercise of aboriginal and treaty rights impacted through certain business activities. In order to eliminate or minimize these adverse effects, the Grand Council is prepared to hold discussions or potential negotiations with proponents who wish to carry out business operations in Treaty # 3 Territory. However, the appropriate role of the Crown must not be forgotten.
Grand Council Treaty # 3 is prepared to offer any proponent the opportunity to take advantage of specific Treaty # 3 authorizations that will provide clear authority to conduct their business ventures and create legal certainty to legitimize these developments in Treaty # 3 Territory. It is the goal of the Grand Council to establish strong working relationships with any proponent who respects Anishinaabe values and principles on the environment.
And there is an Anishinaabe Law under which proponents may satisfy the Constitution Act, 1982 as directed by recent Supreme Courts rulings. The Court has said many times that aboriginal people must be consulted properly about effects on their treaty and aboriginal rights. The Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3 has a law that provides a traditionally-ratified process to frame the discussions.
The Elders gathering in Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung at Manito Ochi-waan on April 22 and 23, 1997 and on July 31, 1997, approved this law and respectfully petitioned the National Assembly to adopt it as a temporal law of the Nation. The Nation, with approval of the Elders and validation in traditional ceremony, and with ratification by the National Assembly, proclaimed this law on the 3rd day of October 1997.
The name of the law is Manito Aki Inakonigaawin or the Great Earth Law.