Toronto, ON (March 26, 2013) Recently, Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, forwarded an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper requesting Canada’s cooperation to commemorate in 2013 the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation signed by King George III on October 7, 1763. The Royal Proclamation is one of Canada’s founding documents and is recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights.
In 2013, Canada continues to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Canada has plans to mark the centennial of the First World War and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald. There is a general intention to build up to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. In spite of all these ongoing and planned festivities, Canada has yet to decide whether to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. To get things under way, Regional Chief Beardy has requested that a joint First Nations/Canada Steering Committee be established to organize the Royal Proclamation Commemoration. First Nations across Canada are supportive of the effort, as confirmed by an Assembly of First Nations resolution passed on December 6, 2012.
Regional Chief Beardy stated, “Canada would not be Canada without the Royal Proclamation of 1763. It baffles me why it is not being considered for commemoration, along with several other Canadian milestones.” The Royal Proclamation was meant to implement some of the elements of the Treaty of Paris (1763), following the Seven Years War (sometimes referred to as the French Indian War). The issuance of the Proclamation was hastened by collective First Nation victories in Pontiac’s War, starting in 1763. The solemn Treaty making protocol established by the Royal Proclamation led directly to the Treaty of Fort Niagara in 1764, creating a new Covenant Chain between the British Crown and several First Nations in the Great Lakes area of present day Canada. Many of these First Nations honored the Proclamation and the Covenant Chain by supporting the British cause in the War of 1812. The First Nation military alliance was crucial to the survival of British North America, setting the stage for Confederation in 1867. The fundamental importance of the Royal Proclamation is clear.
No reply to the Regional Chief’s open letter has been received from Prime Minister Harper’s office. Support has been offered by some parliamentarians, such as Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, NDP Member of Parliament for Manicougan, Quebec. NDP Leader Thomas Mulclair stated on January 31, “If he (Prime Minister Harper) was going to concentrate on one historical anniversary, I would suggest it be that one (the Royal Proclamation).” Beardy stated, “I am sincerely hoping that this opportunity to educate Canadians on the founding history of this country will not be missed, especially at this time of general public misunderstanding of First Nations.”
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.
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