In 2016, Ontario declared the first week of November as Treaties Recognition Week. Annual observance of the week honours the treaties that have shaped the lives of Indigenous people in the province, and the country. Treaties are often understood as baskets of rights and obligations, akin to contracts, but to Indigenous people these were also sacred agreements, often signed in traditional ceremonies, that created lasting and impactful relationships. Treaties Recognition Week is an opportunity for all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to reflect on those relationships, what they mean to us, and how best to maintain them into the future.
Our own treaty relationships are in stark focus right now, as the Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s historic land claims trial wrapped up closing arguments only last week. During that trial, we saw how the Crown’s understanding of their obligations under the treaties differs from our own, and also where we agree. While we wait for the court’s decision, which isn’t expected until 2021, we remember that, whatever the outcome, we are in a relationship with the Crown that is complicated, challenging, sometimes beneficial and, most importantly, ongoing. We are treaty people, as are all the non-Indigenous people of Canada, and our vision must be one of the future, even as we cherish our rich past.
Read more about our history and treaties here.