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Ratify Jay Treaty to lessen border hassles for Indigenous peoples

By Jason Coppaway, Abelardo Gómez Díaz & Michael O’Shea      

While the U.S. allows Indigenous peoples from Canada to freely cross south, Canada doesn’t do the same for those from the U.S. crossing north. This has caused unnecessary delays and problems at the border.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, pictured speaking in the House foyer in June, appointed a special envoy to look into Canada-U.S. border-crossing issues for First Nations in 2016. The envoy proposed that Canada ratify the Jay Treaty as one possible solution. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

On Aug. 18, 1795, George Washington signed the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation with Britain—also known as the Jay Treaty. Named for the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court who negotiated the treaty, John Jay, it was a successful diplomatic effort that lessened tensions between the two countries that had persisted since the end of the American Revolution. Within the treaty, however, was Article III, which established today’s version of the Canada-U.S. border and recognized the pre-existing rights of Indigenous North Americans to freely traverse that border.

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