By Order of King George III
More than 250 years ago, First Nations rights and lands were recognized
The ruler of Great Britain — and therefore of British settlements in North America — outlined a set of principles for Treaty-making with First Nations in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. It was the most important document in the history of Treaty-making in Canada. The proclamation by King George III recognized First Nations as nations with a huge land base in North America.
No one could buy, make agreements about, or occupy any First Nations land without an agreement with the First Nations. King George reminded his subjects that this applied to them. Anyone who had settled on First Nations lands accidentally or on purpose had to leave.
The King’s representatives could buy land, but only if First Nations people agreed to the sale in a public meeting.
The Royal Proclamation was law for everyone in countries ruled by Britain. It says that First Nations people should not be harmed or disturbed in the huge area the proclamation recognized as theirs.
Government officials in North America were not allowed to sell or give away land outside territory they acquired, meaning they couldn’t touch First Nations land. And the King’s statement was clear that all land was First Nations land unless it was covered by a Treaty.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law in 1982. Section 25 of the charter says that the rights and freedoms recognized by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 still stand. It remains the basis of the nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and Canada.