Treaty-Making in Canada

Treaty medal
Treaty Medal Credit: Library and Archives Canada,
Acc. No. 1986-79-1638 Copyright: Expired

The impact of treaty-making in Canada has been wide-ranging and long standing. The treaties the Crown has signed with Aboriginal peoples since the 18th century have permitted the evolution of Canada as we know it. In fact, much of Canada's land mass is covered by treaties.

This treaty-making process, which has evolved over more than 300 years between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada, has its origins in the early diplomatic relationship developed between European settlers and Aboriginal people. These diplomatic proceedings were the first steps in a long process that has led to today's comprehensive claims agreements between the Crown and Aboriginal people.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is the federal department responsible for negotiating and implementing treaties (including comprehensive claims). INAC also maintains a centre of expertise for understanding Canada's pre-1975 treaties with First Nations Peoples.

Currently, there are approximately 70 recognised treaties that form the basis of the relationship between 364 First Nations, representing over 600,000 First Nations people, and the Crown.

Pre-1975 Treaties and Treaty First Nations in Canada Interactive Infographic

Text description of figure the Infographic

The title, "Historic Treaties and Treaty First Nations in Canada" appears at the top of the page.

Underneath, written is: 366 of 617 First Nations are Treaty First Nations (59%). Below this statistic is a grey box with information stating: "Historic treaties are located in nine provinces and three territories, covering nearly 50% of Canada's land mass". On the right side is another fact: "Total Population of Treaty First Nations (2006): 619,020." Below this are graphic stick figures of women and men.

At the bottom is a large map of Canada identifying the locations of recognized treaties. Right above the map is a colour-coded legend. There is also a large circular sign that states "70 recognized treaties" and branches off to each treaty area on the map. Douglas Treaties (1850-1854) are located in British Columbia. Numbered Treaties (1871-1921) are across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Robinson Treaties (1850), Williams Treaties (1923), and Upper Canada Land Surrenders (1781-1862) are located mostly in Ontario. The maritime Peace and Friendship Treaties (1725-1779) were located across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Lastly, Peace and Neutrality Treaties (1701-1760) were not represented on the map. Underneath the map is a note stating: "As there is no defined geographic extend for the Peace and Neutrality Treaties, they cannot be represented on a map."

Use our Interactive Infographic to learn more about individual Treaties.

PDF Version (1.10 Mb, 1 p.)

What information is available?

In this section, find information on the history of treaty-making in Canada from the 1700s to the present day. In addition, discover historical material including transcripts of original treaty texts and other resources including selected bibliographies that foster Aboriginal awareness.

Contact Us

Treaties and Aboriginal Government
10 Wellington
Gatineau, QC
K1A 0H4

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