Did you know: Queen Victoria and The Treaty Medals

Did you know: Queen Victoria and The Treaty Medals

Did you know: Queen Victoria and The Treaty Medals

As you are relaxing on this years Victoria Day holiday, consider this about our “Grand Mother”

Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death.

In 1864, Newly-knighted Sir John A. Macdonald put together “The Great Coalition of 1864” of Tories and old Reformers to form the government going to be confederated into a Super Colony. He only care for office, for the power, for the sake of carrying out his own views, of what is best for the country, with little or no regard for the desires of Indigenous peoples. The Great Coalition had designs on getting its hands on the riches of Rupert’s Land and the North West Territories. Leaders went to London to ask Queen Victoria to make those lands part of Canada. The Queen said to the “Canadians” that area may be “British”, but the Indians have the title to the land. We do not have any Treaties with the Tribes and Nations who inhabit it. You must obtain their consent through Treaties as per the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Queen reminds the Canadians that when it comes to Rupert’s Land and the North West Territories the Crown did not have the sovereignty of “imperium” and the territory involved was not a part of “Canada.” Queen Victoria had said: “I mandate that Treaties will be negotiated:

a) “In my name and under my supervision;

b) for the sole purpose of immigration and settlement;

c) compensation must be paid;

d) the treaties will be just and equitable.”

In 1867, the Queen met with John A. Macdonald and four Canadian delegates in February 1867 as the British North America Act was passed before British Parliament. Under the BNA, The Queens Address, “The 1867 Address referenced in the 1870 Order, which provides, among other things, that “…the said North-Western Territory shall be admitted into and become part of the Dominion of Canada upon the terms and conditions set forth in the first herein-before recited [1867] Address…”  The North-Western Territory is not admitted into and does not become part of the Dominion of Canada until the Terms and Conditions have been satisfied, namely, that a Treaty has been consented to by the Indigenous nations and just and equitable compensation have been agreed to.

  • The Dominion of Canada is created under the terms of the British North America Act. Canada’s original constitution was the charter to Confederation.
  • Section 91(24) of the BNA Act established Federal jurisdiction over “Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians”. The federal government implemented their responsibility through the future Indian Act. The BNA was drafted in part to provide policy “teeth” for Sir John A. MacDonald’s “New Indian policy.” The Act specified how the Indigenous Nation peoples were put ‘under the protection’ of the Crown. Historically, s. 91(24) was understood as a shield—it was intended to stop the provinces from passing laws that directly interfere with ‘Indians and lands reserved for the Indians.” It provided the hidden agenda for the treaties, and it emphasized the government’s central priorities for the Indians are “assimilation, enfranchisement, and civilization.” There was no Treaties in place for consent from Indigenous Nations. This illegal assumption was never brought up in the making of Treaties in the years going forward.

The Treaty Medals were an important part of the treaty ceremony, providing a lasting visual reminder to all participants of the commitments made. The first medals were awarded to the Chiefs who signed Treaties 1 and 2. The medal bears a bust of Queen Victoria and the inscription “VICTORIA REGINA”; the reverse side bears a wreath of oak leaves and acorns joined by a knot. This medal design was not made specifically for the treaties; it was purchased from J.S. & A.B. Wyon of London, England, and selected from premade stock, possibly used for agricultural fairs. By 1872 the medals were seen as not impressive enough, so a new set was commissioned in Montreal. However, the silver plating came off too easily, so for Treaty 3 and subsequent treaties a third version was ordered from England for $24 each. The agriculture theme was replaced by a stylized Indian encampment at sunset, with an Indian leader in war costume and a British officer shaking hands. The inscription reads “INDIAN TREATY No.-/187-“. The date and treaty number would be inscribed at the time of signing.

Allen Sutherland, KEEPER, CIRCLES
Government, First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory (FNT2T)