A post about Canadian Treaties by Kelsey

I realize I am a bit late in writing this because Treaties Recognition Week was the first week of November, but the ignorance I found in my ANTH*3670 Indigenous People’s discussion thread has pushed me to share my response on a larger platform. I wanted to share to Storyteller because I feel that people who read these submissions want to learn through other individual’s experiences. Myself, being of Indigenous background, have had to deal with classmates who do not understand Canadian’s history with its Indigenous population. This can sometimes be very frustrating to me, but I also realize the oppressed history of the Residential School System legacy is to blame. For this exact reason, this is why I believe education is extremely important.

Teacher Discussion Question: Are We Really Treaty People?

Student Answer:
We Are Not The Product Of Treaties.
I would argue that the average Canadian is not the product of treaties so much as we are the natural conquerors. Indigenous people are the ones who abide by the limits treaties place. The average Canadian does not concern themselves with any particular treaty and if all treaties where suddenly destroyed it would not effect the life of the average Canadian but it would cause a crisis in the indigenous community in Canada. Treaties have been more of a way for Europeans to legitimize their conquering to new lands and the negotiate a system in which the indigenous peoples are essentially bought out so that they do not have to be conquered by force. Is this system the equal, no, but should it be, no. Indigenous peoples and Europeans where not at an equal balance of power historically or presently and it is only right that the more powerful decide the system of institution that will govern the lands. The treatment of indigenous peoples is not meant to be equal it is meant to be fair and many of the treaties have proven to be fair and those that where done through unfair means are resolved through the court system of the Canadian government, the dominant power, which is willing to accept its mistakes of unfair treatment if they have been fairly proven.

My Response:
Without treaties the European settlement that it is today would have never happened, therefore I disagree that the average Canadian is not a product of treaties, but all Canadians ARE products of treaties. Without many of the numbered treaties, Europeans would not be allowed to develop through “Indian Territory”. For example, Treaty 3 allowed “the federal government access to Saulteaux lands in present-day northwestern Ontario and eastern Manitoba in exchange for various goods and Indigenous rights to hunting, fishing and natural resources on reserve lands” (Filice, 2015). Without this treaty, Europeans would not have access to these lands and the resources of this land, which helped with settlement. Without treaties Canadian families would not be comfortably settled where they currently are.
I will agree that language barriers and cultural barriers led to a misunderstanding of certain terms of treaties. The First Nations saw the treaties saw the payments as a gift for the settlers to use the land (aka rent) where as the British Government took it as a purchase. Although, this misunderstanding is what has led to the current Land Claim issues that the government is working on resolving. There is even a Treaties Recognition Week, during the first week of November, which comes out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the country’s lack of understanding of its Indigenous population. The government of Ontario has implemented this week to “recognize the importance of treaties and to bring awareness to the treaty relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the province” (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, 2016). David Zimmer, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has stated “Treaties are the reason Canada and Ontario exist as we know them today. All Ontarians, especially students, need to gain a better understanding of treaties. Treaties Recognition Week will provide ongoing opportunities to learn about the treaties that have shaped the province” (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, 2016). Just on this statement alone I can argue that all Canadians, including the average Canadian, is the product of treaties made between the British Crown and the Indigenous people. The land you are living on is because a treaty was made, if you take away the treaties (if they were suddenly destroyed) the Indigenous people would claim the land that was rightfully theirs before the treaties and European settlers would have to find somewhere else to live.
References:
Filice, Michelle. “Treaty 3.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/treaty-3/.
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Ontario Proclaims First Week of November Treaties Recognition Week”. Ontario Newsroom, 2016. Accessed February 8, 2017 https://news.ontario.ca/mirr/en/2016/05/ontario-proclaims-first-week-of-november-treaties-recognition-week.html.

What I like about online discussions is the fact that we can build off of each other’s ideas, and respectfully state our own ideas. Although, when very under researched response to a historical topic, especially about my people, comes around I get a little offended. I felt so strongly about this that I felt I had to share.

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