If you’ve been to a public event lately, odds are you’ve heard it acknowledged Winnipeg is on Treaty 1 territory, and in the homeland of the Métis Nation.
You’ve also probably heard the saying, ‘We Are All Treaty people.’
But you may not know what it all means. And you’re not alone.
Throughout the Vital Signs process we worked with Elder Dr. Myra Laramee, who provided guidance, insight and perspective to the project.
Treaties set out promises, obligations and benefits for both parties. They were signed nation to nation, to coexist in peace and harmony.
Treaty 1 was signed Aug. 3, 1871 by representatives of the Crown and of Indigenous communities. There are seven First Nations that were part of the signing of Treaty 1: Brokenhead Ojibway, Sagkeeng, Long Plain, Peguis, Roseau River Anishinabe, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake (see the traditional names of these First Nations). The land encompassed by Treaty 1 includes Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Grand Beach, Emerson, Winkler and many more.
According to Dr. Laramee, if you’re living on or visiting treaty land you should be familiar with the treaty that encompasses it. That goes for everyone – Indigenous or not. The only way that understanding can happen is by reading the treaty, she says.
When you read Treaty 1, it quickly becomes clear stipulations in it have not been met by the Canadian government. Moving from a place of ignorance to a place of knowing is uncomfortable, as it forces people to take responsibility – something that for too long hasn’t been required or done, Dr. Laramee says.
Once we as individuals understand what was promised and what hasn’t been delivered, we can encourage action on the part of other Canadians, government, institutions, and more.
The Winnipeg Foundation’s vision is ‘A Winnipeg where community life flourishes for all.’ This is consistent with the society promised in Treaty 1. Knowing this helps us along our individual and collective journeys toward truth and reconciliation – something we owe ourselves, and all Canadians.