My home is on Treaty 6 territory and I acknowledge how grateful I am to feel welcomed here and to share this space with the people that have lived on this land before me: the Métis Peoples, Cree, Blackfoot, Nakota Sioux, and Saulteaux.
On August 21, 1877, here in Amiskwaciy Waskkahikan, Treat 6 was signed most likely on the north side of the river. In my searching for Truths of that time I have discovered:
Myth: the chiefs and signatories understood what they were signing as did the Government agents.
FACT: treaty negotiations required translators. Weak translation and omission caused confusion and misunderstanding about the promises and their meanings for the First Nation Peoples.
FACT: Oral promises made during the negotiations were often not included in the final written treaties.
FACT: It was important to the signing Chiefs that the sacred pipe be involved. In the presence of the pipe, only the truth must be used and any commitment made in its presence must be kept.
It has been said that on that day in 1877 the First Nations Peoples thought they were creating a marriage contract and government agents knew they were signing a divorce agreement.
FACT: The 94 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report mostly follow the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People Act that was passed by a majority of 144 votes on Sept 13, 2007.
FACT: There were four countries that voted against it, they were: United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
FACT: It took until June 22, 2021 (THIS YEAR!) for the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People Act to receive Royal Assent and to come into force.
Since 2018 I have challenged myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable about my responsibility to those calls to action:
Action #1 taking care of the children.
Action #2 about giving Indigenous Parents education in parenting.
The other actions go on to deal with Education, Health, the law, sports, History and archives, religion, and funding to CBC, as well as section 43 of the criminal code of Canada.
I challenge myself as a non-Indigenous person to pick one of those areas each year and connect to related organizations and ask how they are doing in implementing the actions and how I can help them achieve them. It took until Truth and Reconciliation Day this year for me to actually move my feet on that challenge.
We all stand on guard here today on Treaty 6 land. May the healing begin.