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17 November 2023
A line of people stretched outside the Multi-Educational Centre at Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, once known as the Spanish River Indian Reserve, on the north shore of Lake Huron between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on June 29.
A representative of Indigenous Services Canada handed each person two toonies. The $4 payment dates back to 1850, when the ancestors of Indigenous people who live on Canada’s side of Lake Huron, known as the Anishnawbe, signed a treaty with William Robinson, a former fur trader who represented the Crown for the colony of Upper Canada.
At the time, they agreed to allow logging, mining and settlement in their watershed, with compensation fixed at $1.70 per person in the communities affected. The annual payout increased once — to $4. Since then, resource companies have extracted a great deal of nickel, copper, uranium, lumber and fish from the region and thousands of settlers have moved in. But the payout stayed at $4.