Ambassador Bridge on March 16, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/ Bridge on March 16, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/

First Nations Chiefs meeting in Windsor to discuss Jay Treaty

The Jay Treaty Border Alliance is meeting in Windsor this week to discuss how First Nation tribal councils can work with governments on both sides of the border to uphold the Jay Treaty.

The Jay Treaty is a document signed between Great Britain and the United States, pre-confederation, which allowed the First Nation people to cross between the borders "unmolested with their wares."

The treaty is currently recognized by the United States government but not the Canadian government.

"We're here to discuss Canada's obligation to recognize the Jay Treaty for First Nations people in Canada. We've brought all the chiefs who could make it from Canada and the U.S. to address it," said Caldwell First Nation Chief Mary Duckworth.

Duckworth said members of the First Nations should be allowed to show their status card and travel freely between the two countries. However, recent COVID-19 restrictions have made that increasingly difficult.

"It's really interfered in our mobility. You have to understand that we work in the U.S., our people have joined the military in the U.S., they have to cross for their pensions, they have to cross to visit family so we want to be able to do that," said Duckworth.

Government agencies and elected officials are meeting with the First Nation Chiefs to listen to the concerns and work towards a resolution.

"Canada can't sit back and allow this to continue and tout themselves as this great independent country. They need to be responsible to the First Nations, the people who were here," said Duckworth.

On Tuesday morning, members of the Jay Treaty Border Alliance will hold a ceremony on the Ambassador Bridge to signify the importance of free movement across the border.

Traffic will be stopped between 11:45 a.m. and 12 p.m.

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