British-Inuit Treaty Of 1765

In August 1765 in Chateau Bay, Labrador, 300 Inuit came to a multi-day gathering at the request of Newfoundland Governor Hugh Palliser. Palliser came in a ship with 350 men accompanied by two warships with 570 men. Two Moravian Brethren assisted Palliser as interpreters.

For centuries (since the mid-1500s), interactions between our Inuit ancestors and the Europeans were hostile or completely avoided. This stemmed from competition between our people and the Europeans for the whale, seal, and fish resources. Palliser saw first-hand wrong-doings by the British towards our people. He thought a Treaty would resolve tensions and support Britain’s interests, while protecting our ancestors from such poor treatment.

The Treaty of 1765 meant that British interests were protected from French and American interferences. It also meant that our ancestors were protected by the British Crown and had Treaty Rights. These rights included: self-government, harvest of wildlife and natural resources, and commercial right of trade. The Treaty was entered into on August 21, 1765 and formally recorded by the Lords of Trade to the Privy Council of Britain in May of 1769.

The current holders and beneficiaries of the Treaty are the NunatuKavut Inuit. The Treaty is now protected by the Constitution. Today, we celebrate the Treaty that first protected our rights as Inuit people over 250 years ago.

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