Treaties create lasting rights that are enforceable by Canadian law, but government policies and laws have complicated their implementation. Another question that complicates giving effect to the Treaty promises is defining what was promised in the Treaties.
The parties to the Treaties have different views about the content and the meaning of the Treaties. The Treaty First Nations expect the Treaties to be implemented according to their spirit and intent, including oral promises made when the Treaties were entered into. The Government of Canada, on the other hand, has looked mostly to the written text of the Treaties to determine the Crown’s obligation.
The Supreme Court has developed some principles to be considered when deciding what rights are included in a Treaty: