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Treaties Recognition Week Reflections

Braiding Our Past, Present and Future

 

Weeklong Reflection Activities

How can you educate yourself on treaties this week? What can you learn to share with others? Here are some guided reflection activities to help you learn about treaties. Reflection activities are available all week.

 

Learning from the Land

Sometime this week, go and sit in some natural green space - by a tree, water or wherever you feel drawn - for 30 minutes, or whatever you can manage.  No cell phone or other distractions are allowed, and if you can, make it a space that has not been modified by humans.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.  What is your body doing and feeling when you first get there and sit down?  How do you feel as you continue to quietly wait there?  When was the last time you can recall just sitting and being with nature? What do you learn about connecting with the land simply by sitting and listening?

 

The Royal Proclamation of 1763

Learn about this historical letter from King George III acknowledging Indigenous land rights. What happened next?

Watch Justice Murray Sinclair speak on the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

 

Treaties Recognition Week Padlet

What traditional territory are you on and what treaty covers it? Whose.land is an interactive map showing treaties that apply on Turtle Island, also called North America. Take some time to reflect and answer the question: what action can I take to honour the land I am on?

Share your response and see others here.

 

Movement Towards Change: What Can You Do?

Honouring and fulfilling treaties is one way to help build stronger relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Now that you have begun learning about treaties, how can you act while building your understanding?

 

Struggles for Treaty Rights in Nova Scotia

As you have seen on the news and social media recently, non-Indigenous commercial fishers have been criticizing Sipekne’katik First Nation and other Mi’kmaq fishers for catching lobster out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ regulated fishing season. Non-Indigenous fishers have blockaded Mi’kmaq fishers from the wharf and on the water, and burned Mi’kmaq lobster pounds (storage areas) and equipment. There was little police presence to prevent such attacks. The Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of the treaty rights in the Marshall decisions makes it clear that the Mi’kmaq can regulate their own fishing. Here are some helpful resources to understand more about the Mi’kmaq treaties of peace and friendship, and their right to fish, and actions you can choose to take in support of the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Here is a set of fast facts about the Mi’kmaq that help to contextualize the current struggle to exercise Treaty rights to fishing in Nova Scotia. 

Fishing and hunting for sustenance are not only age-old practices of the Mi’kmaq, but they are deeply connected to netukulimk, a core concept and value of the Mi’kmaq. How does the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Marshall case reflect the principle of netukulimk? What relevance does netukulimk have at present, as we grapple with climate change? What can we learn from the Mi’kmaq about how to organize our use of natural resources?

Further resources:

 

How to Steal a Canoe

By Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 

Kwe is barefoot on the cement floor singing to a warehouse of stolen canoes, bruised bodies, dry skin, hurt ribs, dehydrated rage. Akiwenzie says ‘It’s canoe jail.’

How to Steal a Canoe is a stop motion animation short film directed by Amanda Strong, featuring the song of the same name by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s album from her album f(l)ight. Betasamosake speaks the lyrics over Cris Derksen’s undulating cello.

Kwe takes the young one off the rack and unto her shoulders…and drives to Chemong. She pulls her out into the middle of the lake, sinks her with seven stones…

Questions for reflection or discussion

  • If you close your eyes while you listen, is it canoes you picture? What else do you see?
  • In watching the video, what do the images and animation style evoke for you?
  • What does it mean for canoes to be incarcerated? How are we invited to see these canoes? Whom else do these canoes bring to mind? 
  • How does the sound of Betasamosake’s lyrics and the music relate to what is going in this song?
  • What is happening?
  • How would this process—what Kwe and Akiwenzie are doing—come to be called stealing—not saving, re-claiming or liberating?
  • What other choice does Zhaganash, the security guard, have but to look away?

 

Indigenous Nations in the Durham Region

One of the ways we can be a part of reconciliation is by knowing the Indigenous history of the area in which we live and the history of the treaties that cover the area. For example, Ontario Tech University is located on traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation which includes Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatomi. The university is located on the lands of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, and this land is covered by the Williams Treaties.

Learn more about the history of the Williams Treaties.

Sometimes, you may notice that local histories do not capture the full history of the region. You might also notice that some historical markers use quotes from settlers but not from Indigenous people, and that the quotes reflect colonial mindsets and outdated language. Re-learning our history is a process, and we sometimes have to revisit the ways that we have commemorated parts of our history. Landmarks and plaques that once seemed appropriate may not stand the test of time.

A local example is the historical plaque at Lynde Shores. The plaque tells the history of the Lynde Marsh, and it does recognize part of the Indigenous history in the area. But the history of Indigenous people in the area is much broader and richer than the plaque suggests, and so it misses an opportunity to tell the full story of the Lynde Shores. And it  fails to recognize the Williams’ Treaties and the treaty relationship. Learn more about the history of Indigenous Peoples at Lynde Shores.

Of particular concern is a quote from settler, James Storey. The quote was likely meant to highlight the presence and activities of Indigenous peoples in the area – a way to integrate the histories of the settlers and the Indigenous peoples. But the quote is very much a product of its time, and it reflects a colonial mindset.

(images courtesy of Dana Blakolmer)

How might you re-write the plaque so that it becomes part of reconciliation rather than an artefact of past prejudices and mindsets?

Here, we have a tangible opportunity to cultivate greater awareness of the Indigenous history of our region and, in so doing, help to promote greater respect for Indigenous people and treaty relationships. If you would like to become part of a grassroots campaign that will work collaboratively to update the Lynde Shores Historical Plaque, please reach out to indigenous@ontariotechu.ca.

 

 

Want to learn more? The Library can help. Visit the Library’s Indigenous Studies Research Guide web page for resources.

This week-long series of events is brought to you by the President’s Indigenous Reconciliation Task Force and Indigenous Education and Cultural Services at Ontario Tech University and the First Peoples Indigenous Centre at Durham College.​