We are all treaty people

October 5, 2016

I found this recent article interesting for many reasons, but one in particular was that the author reminded me that all residents of Canada are living under treaty. When the treaties were negotiated between our Indigenous people and Canada, our government was representing all Canadians and making commitments on behalf of all Canadians. In his article, Cannon also makes another important observation. When we talk about reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians, we often stress the fact that non-Indigenous people need to learn the history of Canada, which includes the history of Indigenous Canadians, their contributions, the residential schools and treaty terms among the highest on the list of knowledge gaps.

 

This is very true, and I have stressed this myself. However, it is also very important, as the article notes, that "colonizers" learn their own history. Every Canadian would benefit from understanding the ideologies of the colonial settlers that came before us. This would no doubt shed light on the inherent racism that persists today in many of our institutions.

 

Some have asked about immigrants to Canada after the treaties - do they bear any responsibility for the failure of Canadians to live up to the treaties? No, they do not bear responsibility for the failed promises of the treaties. However, immigrants have a responsibility to understand the history of their new home and to appreciate that they too are now "treaty people."

 

 

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