Sharing the land
  • The prosperity of the land was supposed to be shared

  • Treaty annuities were the means to do so

What we do

    The Modernized Annuity Working Group (MAWG)

has been working since June 2019 to explore whether there is a historical and legal foundation to modernizing Treaty annuities, and if so, how to go about implementing the idea.


In the fall of 2020, we submitted “A Modern Annuity for Canada—Concrete Reconciliation” to the Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development. Following the peer review process, it will be published in Volume 12, Issue 1, 2021, pages 92-110.


“A Modern Annuity for Canada” explores the rationale, design, implementation, and cost of a modern Treaty annuity that would acknowledge the value to Canada of the land ceded by the Indigenous Peoples and serves as a concrete measure for reconciliation.


This paper discusses the Modern Annuity in four sections:

     • Reviewing the rationale for a Modern Annuity

     • Clarifying both the historical and legal foundations for Treaty annuities

     • Setting the design and value for the Modern Annuity

     • Estimating the financial impact on First Nations families and Canada’s finances.

What comes next

“A Modern Annuity for Canada” is intended as a catalyst for discussion. Therefore, the next step is to create a forum for First People and Settlers where, with respect and inclusiveness, we can share, debate, discuss and, we hope, find the kind of meeting ground that is so important for reconciliation.


Due to COVID-19, in-person workshops and meetings are currently not possible. As part of the Modern Treaty Annuities: Let's Talk project, our team is working on a virtual forum for 2021 so that we—Settlers and First People—can create a framework for a Modern Annuity together.


Groups, organizations and reconciliation committees that would like to participate in this forum or receive advance notice, should email:

              Sheilla Jones, MAWG Co-Chair


              or utilize the Contact form.


A Modern Annuity for Canada—Concrete Reconciliation

Gregory Mason, Sheilla Jones, Wayne Helgason

Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development

Volume 12, Issue 1, February 2021



A Treaty annuity continues to be paid to every man, woman and child who is a Registered (Status) First Nations person and is a member of a band that signed the historic Robinson Treaties (1850) and the Numbered Treaties (1871-1921). The annuity value today is $5 per year ($4 in most of Ontario). That value has been frozen since 1878, which was the last time Canada’s Parliament voted to increase Treaty annuities.


The Treaty annuities were intended to:

  • Reduce the up-front cost of to the Crown for Settler access to First Nations traditional lands by deferring payments into the future;

  • Provide a livelihood support, paid directly to Treaty families and individuals, to help them adapt to lifestyle changes brought about by settlement;

  • Increase over time as a means for Settlers to share with the First People the prosperity generated on traditional lands.


Although the promise to increase annuities to reflect compensation for sharing the land and sharing the prosperity of the land was written into the Treaties 170 years ago, no mechanism to calculate increases has ever existed. We are proposing three models, all which suggest a Modern Annuity would mean a very substantial increase in value.


Proposed valuation models for a Modern Annuity:

  • Historical model based on the intended livelihood support

  • GDP model based on a per capita share of the land-based economic activities measured by the Gross Domestic Product (e.g., agriculture, forestry, fishing, resource extraction)

  • Federal transfer model based on the rationale of current transfers to individuals (e.g., Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security)

Research, resources, videos

first facts

Quick facts to get started

Treaty annuities payable to every man, woman and child first began in 1818 with a $10 annuity...

The Indian Act of 1985 is silent on the valuation and distribution of...


Voices and viewpoints

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By Sheilla Jones and Sheilla North

Toronto Star

Op-ed, December 23, 2019

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By Sheilla Jones

Frontier Commentary, January 2019

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Guest Column: Sheilla Jones

Ottawa Sun, January 12, 2019


Research deep dives

By Sheilla Jones

Frontier Backgrounder,

No. 124, August 2018

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FB125 Silence photo.jpg

By Sheilla Jones

Frontier Backgrounder

No. 125, October 2018

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By Sheilla Jones

Frontier Backgrounder

No. 126, October 2018

Frontier Backgrounder header.jpg
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By Sheilla Jones

Frontier Backgrounder

No. 127, October 2018

Frontier Backgrounder header.jpg


Voices and viewpoints

Glenn Cochrane.jpg

Highlighting the necessity of modern-era first people and settlers coming together to rewrite our relationship, in the spirit of reconciliation. December 2019.

Frontier video 18:20

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Sheilla Jones on re-framing spending by Indigenous Affairs so that it makes sense.

Frontier video 3:44

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Think of IA and its 30+ co-delivery partners as a "super-province".

Frontier video 4:12

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Why is the annuity payable to Canada's Treaty First Nations people still only $5?

Frontier video 4:26

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Wayne Helgason on the implications of modernizing Treaty annuities.

Frontier video 2:21

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Leona Freed on the frustration of feeling like no one is listening to ordinary FN people.

Frontier video 2:0

MAWG is working with coalition partner,

the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg,

to explore the implications of a modern annuity.

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