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Transcript donation preserves landmark trial record for future generations

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

The transcript of a landmark trial centred around a 19th-century treaty will soon be available publicly following a donation by Neesons Court Reporting to the Laurentian University Library.

Neesons was engaged to provide real-time, rough draft and certified transcripts in the case, which revolves around treaty annuities due to Ontario First Nations under the Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior treaties, signed in 1850.

The trial, which took place over nine months between September 2017 and June 2018, generated more than 15,000 pages of transcripts, but when Laurentian University approached Neesons about purchasing a copy for its digital repository of the proceeding, the firm decided to provide one for free.

“We saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community at large,” Kim Neeson, the company’s founder and president, tells AdvocateDaily.com. “It’s a unique case and it’s important for the record to be available for everyone, including academics, teachers, the First Nations community and the Canadian public too.”

The treaties set out an agreement for annual payments to First Nations but a number of bands launched a challenge against the provincial and federal governments to protest the annual rates, which have remained stuck at $4 per person since 1874.

According to a CBC News report on closing arguments, the group representing 21 First Nations in the case wants to calculate the revenue gained in the territory since the 1800s in order to determine the amount they are owed. They had more than 50 supporters in an overflow room watching proceedings via a live stream at the court.

Testimony heard during the trial came from elders, community leaders and experts, and Christine Perruzza, the lawyer representing the Crown, took a moment during her closing address to recognize the gesture by Neesons.

“We just wanted to acknowledge the donation of the transcript in this matter by Neeson Court Reporting to the Laurentian University Library, for the use in the digital repository of this proceeding,” she said. ”Their generous contribution is important for the public and scholars to have free and ongoing access to the record of this historic proceeding.”

The parties expect to receive Justice Patricia Hennessy's decision by the end of the year, according to the CBC.

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