Ontario marks first Treaties Recognition Week

QUEEN’S PARK—As part of its commitment to rebuilding relationships with First Nations based on trust and respect, Ontario is honouring the importance of treaties and helping people learn more about treaty rights and treaty relationships.

David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, joined Anishinabek Nation’s Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee at David Bouchard Public School in Oshawa to celebrate Ontario’s inaugural Treaties Recognition Week.

Ontario recognizes the wrongs of previous generations and is committed to changing the future, a provincial government press release states. “This includes educating people in Ontario about the role that treaties play in each of our lives and in our relationships with each other.”

The province and Anishinabek Nation are launching a new resource, called Gdoo-sastamoo kii mi: Understanding Our Nation to Nation Relationship, to help students learn about Ontario’s treaty relationships. The kit includes a teacher’s guide, books and activities that connect to Ontario’s secondary school curriculum. The province is also working with indigenous partners to raise awareness by supporting Indigenous speakers in schools and online learning resources available at Ontario.ca/Treaties.

Raising awareness about treaties is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

“All Ontarians share the benefits and the obligations of treaties,” said Minister Zimmer. “That’s why Ontario is working with Anishinabek Nation and other partners to raise awareness of treaty rights and relationships during Treaties Recognition Week and year-round.”

“The lack of understanding about the treaty relationship, Indian Residential Schools and our history in Ontario has been a hindrance to the learning spirit of First Nations people and to all of the people in Ontario,” said Grand Council Chief Madahbee. “The Gdoo-sastamoo kii mi teacher’s kit will help alleviate racism and support teachers in the area of understanding the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people.”

The teachers resource is full of fun and engaging activities that will help students learn about relationships in the areas of Indian Residential Schools, Ipperwash, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the treaty relationship in Ontario.

The guide for Grades 9-12, written by educator Kelly Crawford from M’Chigeeng First Nation, makes the connections to the Ontario curriculum in the areas of Civics, History, English, Geography, Art and Native Studies.

“We need to provide teachers and students with accurate and engaging learning opportunities about our Nation to Nation relationship,” says Ms. Crawford. “Opening up the discussion surrounding treaties in this province is long overdue. We have a responsibility to ensure that all perspectives are discussed in every classroom.”

Grand Council Chief Madahbee says that this is a big step forward for everyone to understand the relationship.

The kit includes resources that help with the activities in the guide–including a Medicine Wheel Blanket activity and material for writing an agreement with the animals. Resources in the kit include the books ‘Nation to Nation,’ ‘We are all Treaty People,’ ‘Little Butterfly Girl,’ ‘Treaties Matter: Understanding Ipperwash’ and a copy of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. It is available to in English and will be available in French in early December.

The elementary ‘We are all Treaty People’ teachers kit released in May of 2015 in English and in April of 2016 in French has sold more than 1,500 copies.

The Gdoo-Sastamoo Kii Mi kit can be ordered through the Union of Ontario Indians by calling 1-877-702-5200.