What are Treaties? Why should you know about them?

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We are on Treaty land

  1. “We would like to acknowledge that we are currently on Treaty # __ territory.”
  2. Have you heard this sentence before?
  3. Have you ever wondered why this is done? What does it mean?

What is a Treaty?

  1. A Treaty is an agreement.
  2. First Nations Treaties are “negotiated agreements”.
  3. “They clearly spell out rights, responsibilities, relationships of First Nations and the federal and provincial governments” (TRCM).
  4. Treaties are important contracts.
  5. Treaties were made to make relationships stronger.
  6. First Nations Treaties were about sharing of land, resources, and coexistence in exchange for assurances.
  7. Assurances mean promises. Examples of assurances in Treaties:
    • Continuous yearly pensions. A reminder of the agreement made between the two historic Treaty partners (First Nations peoples and the Crown as represented by Canada)
    • Continued right for First Nations to practice their traditional livelihoods. These are hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering
    • Canadians have rights to settle and make a living on the land
  8. They are “an enduring relationship of mutual obligation”.
  9. Treaties meant peaceful coexistence between First Nations and non-First Nation people.
  10. They have been negotiated in Canada between First Nations and the British Crown since 1701. It has been continued in pre-and post-Confederation periods.
  11. The Canadian government acknowledges 70 historic and 24 modern-day Treaties.
  12. These are important building blocks of the nation.
  13. We recognize the importance of Treaties when we say that a place is Treaty land.
  14. It is a sign of respect for the original people of the land. They were here even before the nation of Canada was formed.


(TRCM/CTV Vignette: Share the Land)


Why should you learn about Treaties?

  1. “We are all Treaty people”.
  2. Treaties do not involve only the First Nations and the government. You are part of it.
  3. Every Canadian has Treaty rights. If you own property or plan on owning property in Canada, you are exercising a right that goes back to the very first signed Treaties.
  4. Newcomers must learn about Treaties. It helps us know more about Canada.
  5. We will come to understand the relationship between the First Nations peoples and the government.
  6. It is a big part in understanding how the country was formed.

Why are Treaties still relevant today?

  1. Treaties continue to be part of the future relationships between the First Nations and the government.
  2. “The essence of the Treaty was to create a nation together that will exist in perpetuity, for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, the waters flow”. (Michael Anderson, Research Director).
  3. They are the basis for nation-building. Treaties ensure that everyone enjoys its benefits while observing mutual rights and responsibilities.
  4. There are new Treaties being made in Canada today.
  5. These concern First Nations traditional territories that were not included in the Treaty-making process. These show First Nations peoples’ choice at the time to not be part of the Treaty process.
  6. Newcomers to Canada need to know the current concerns about First Nations Peoples rights.
  7. Understanding Treaties will:
    • help us become more aware of economic and societal issues that First Nations people are facing.
    • prevent us from making quick judgments or forming biases.

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Community Resources

Want to learn more about Treaties? Go the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba site. Check out their:

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