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By John Leslie
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) houses an extensive, but not complete, collection of historic Aboriginal treaties, land surrenders and related agreements (the ITS collection). The collection contains a variety of documents that span more than 275 years, including a May 1680 seigneurial grant to the Jesuits in New France, and a 1956 adhesion to western Treaty 6 (1876). These historical records, a major portion of which are reserve land surrenders, are of particular interest and cultural importance to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act (1982) recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Thus, treaties are constitutional instruments. LAC has digitized and created a website for its principal collection of treaties, surrenders and agreements, in order to promote public awareness and to improve access for those interested in exploring the history of Aboriginal-government relations in Canada. (1)