We Are All Treaty People

Treaty Agriculture Benefits Q&A

  • Published - 22/05/2024
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  • Posted By - OTC
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The Office of the Treaty Commissioner understands there is a lot of confusion and questions around the Treaty Agricultural benefits, so we put together this Q&A to help navigate it. 

What are the Treaty Agricultural benefits?
The Treaty Agricultural benefits are benefits that were promised to First Nations peoples when Treaties were negotiated.

However, historical records and other available evidence suggest the Government of Canada rarely completely fulfilled its agricultural benefits obligations under Treaty. This significantly limited the ability of First Nations to grow and develop their economies.

The Treaty Agriculture Benefits specific claims being discussed now are about Canada finally honouring their legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships in order to address historical wrongs and try to advance reconciliation.

What is ‘Cows and Plows’?
Cows and Plows is a slang term people have used to refer to the Treaty Agricultural benefits. Former Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan Mary Musqua-Culbertson said the slang term should be avoided as it undermines the importance of upholding Treaty rights, because it was more than just a cow or a plow. 

The Treaty Agriculture benefit was intended for people to be able to participate in the economy of the day, which was farming. It would allow for land to be allocated and the provision of what a farmer needs to farm including seeds and equpment. 

What is the claim?
The Treaty Agricultural benefits are considered specific claims.

Specific claims deal with past wrongs against First Nations. These claims (made by First Nations against the Government of Canada) relate to the administration of land and other First Nation assets and to the fulfilment of historic Treaties and other agreements.

Specific claims are separate and distinct from comprehensive land claims or modern treaties.

More information on Specific Claims from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada here

How can I apply for the Treaty Agricultural Benefit?
Only a First Nation, not an individual, can submit an agricultural benefits claim.

To find out if your First Nation has submitted a claim, you can use the Specific Claims Reporting Centre.

Once a claim is settled the First Nation receives the settlement funds.

What is the process?
A First Nation submits a Band Council Resolution asking to start a claim for Agricultural Benefits under the numbered Treaties to the Specific Claims Branch. The First Nation can choose to provide its own historical research or rely on the research CIRNAC is doing.

Following the initial receipt and review of the claim, a submission from the First Nation may be required. If the claim is accepted for negotiation, the First Nation will receive an offer to negotiate.

What is the role of chief and council?
The ultimate role for the First Nation is to ensure they are keeping their people informed on the process and ensure that people are getting the information they need to make their decisions.

If I vote for the Treaty Agricultural Benefits, does this mean I lose my Treaty rights?
No, you will not lose your Treaty rights. The Treaty Agricultural benefits process is about ensuring historical Treaty promises are fulfilled as part of the ongoing Treaty relationship.