‘Treaty Week’ marked at district schools

Sam Odrowski

Most residents of the district know they are under Treaty #3 but not everyone knows what that means.
Schools across the district tried to change this by getting students more educated on the topic through hosting presentations about the history and importance of “Treaty #3 for “Treaty Recognition Week” (Nov. 5-9).
Brittnee Hunter and River Henderson, two students from the Ojibwe Revitalization Program at Seven Generations Education Institute, presented to a Grade 8 class at Donald Young School in Emo.
They also shared their knowledge with students at Atikokan High School, Mine Centre School, Riverview, and McCrosson-Tovell.
At St. Francis School here in Fort Frances, local aboriginal lawyer Clint Calder visited Karen Papineau’s class to speak about his career, land claims, and the history of treaties and their importance.
“I gave a bit of background on the treaties and tried to provide a historical context as to why we have them,” he explained.
Calder told the students that Treaty #3 was signed on Oct. 3, 1873 by 28 First Nations from Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba.
He outlined what Canada promised to the First Nations in the treaty, which included hunting and fishing rights, farming, mineral, and forestry rights, certain education promises,
financial promises, and agreements pertaining to reserve land.
“In return for that, the First Nations promised to surrender roughly 55,000 square miles of land to Canada,” he noted.
Calder said there are two versions of the treaty that was signed: Canada’s version and the First Nations’ version.
“People have different views as to what the treaty actually said,” he noted.
“It’s led to some disagreements and court challenges.”
Calder said he was impressed by the students’ level of engagement, and hoped they learned a bit about why treaties exist and what they contain.
“It can be a bit of a dry topic but I thought the students seemed fairly engaged by the questions they asked,” he remarked.
“They seemed to be interested.”
Papineau also hoped her students took away some information from the presentation.
“I’m hoping that the students now have a greater understanding of what it means to be a part of Treaty #3,” she said.
“It’s a part of our history and they’re used to hearing the word ‘Treaty #3,’ and they know that they’re a part of it,” Papineau added.
“But I think it’s important for them to understand what it’s all about, the history of it–from why it was created and what it was meant to do.”
Even though “Treaty Recognition Week” is now over, Papineau and Calder would like to encourage people who are not well-read on the topic to do some research and better their own understanding.
“I hope people take the opportunity to do some research and learn about what the treaties are, what they mean, and why their so important,” Calder said.
Papineau noted there are a lot of educational resources online and encouraged people to use them to become more educated on treaties.
To learn more about treaties online, visit www.ontario.ca/page/treaties