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Canada’s top court says it will hear a legal battle over Crown payments to Indigenous peoples who ceded a large swath of northern Ontario under two treaties in 1850.

The Ontario government sought to challenge a ruling by the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which found the Crown had violated the terms of its treaties with the Anishinaabe of the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Superior by capping its annual payments at $4 per person for more than a century.

According to court documents, the annuity was raised to that amount in 1875 and has not changed since.

In its ruling last year, the Appeal Court said that while both the federal and provincial governments acknowledge the annuity should be increased in some way, “no steps have been taken to do so.”

As a result, it found the Crown had violated the treaties’ promise to share the resource-based revenues from the territory.

It sent the case back to the trial judge to determine how much money is owed to the First Nations involved, and which government – provincial, federal or both – would be responsible for that compensation.

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