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First Nations

Canada's First Nations view their treaties as being agreements directly between them and the Crown, not with the ever-changing government of Canada. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 made clear that the First Nations were autonomous political units and affirmed their title to lands. It remains an important document, mentioned in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, outlining the Canadian Crown's responsibility to protect First Nations' territories and maintain the bilateral "nation-to-nation" relationship.

In 1984, as a bicentennial gift, Queen Elizabeth II gave the Christ Church Royal Chapel of the Mohawks a new silver chalice to replace one lost during the American Revolution. The lost chalice was from a set given to the Mohawks by Queen Anne in 1712 to embody the relationship between the Crown and Mohawk people.

A modern demonstration of the relationship between the First Nations and the Crown was seen in 1994 when the Dene community of the Northwest Territories presented a list of grievances over stalled land claim negotiations to Queen Elizabeth II, rather than to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, while the two were attending an Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. After speaking with the Chief, the Queen handed the list to the Prime Minister for the Cabinet to address.

In May 2005, the Queen, during a visit to the First Nations University of Canada in Saskatchewan, presented a piece of Balmoral granite engraved with the ciphers of Queen Victoria and herself. The gesture behind the gift was outlined in the Queen's words:

"This stone was taken from the grounds of Balmoral Castle in the Highlands of Scotland — a place dear to my great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. It symbolises the foundation of the rights of First Nations peoples reflected in treaties signed with the Crown during her reign. Bearing the cipher of Queen Victoria as well as my own, this stone is presented to the First Nations University of Canada in the hope that it will serve as a reminder of the special relationship between the Sovereign and all First Nations peoples." - Her Majesty The Queen

    Updated: 2010-06-27