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Economics Speaker Series: The Determinants and Impacts of Historical Treaty-Making in Canada

October 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

The Department of Economics, Philosophy and Political Science invites you to a lecture from Dr. Donna Feir, entitled The Determinants and Impacts of Historical Treaty-Making in Canada.

For nearly three centuries, Indigenous peoples within the borders of present-day Canada engaged in treaty-making with the British Crown and other European powers. These treaties regularly formed the colonial legal basis for access to Indigenous lands for European settlement and use. However, the cession of land through treaties did not occur everywhere, including in regions subsequently settled by Europeans.

As a consequence, there is substantial regional variation in the legal status of settled lands, jurisdiction over natural resources, and state commitments to Indigenous nations. We combine spatial, archival, anthropological and census data to understand the determinants of when and where treaties were signed, their provisions, and how they have shaped the long-run path of economic development in Indigenous communities.

We find that treaties were most likely to be signed by nations that experienced deterioration in their bargaining power through resource depletion, had larger ancestral territories, and had less defensible terrain; however, the language in written treaties shows relatively stable sentiments over time.

Using restricted-access census data, we show that historical treaties are associated with substantially lower income in Indigenous communities today.

This observed differences are not driven by:

  • employment,
  • non-Indigenous presence,
  • occupational composition,
  • education, remoteness, or
  • the timing of European settlement.

We argue that this is the result of differences in the value of property rights relative to the treaty commitments delivered upon by the Crown, which have widened in recent decades with the formal recognition of Aboriginal title.

All are invited to attend this free event. Everyone is welcome.



October 28, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Additional Info

Registration/RSVP Required
Yes (see event description)
Event Type
Arts and Humanities, Indigenous
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Students