Apitipi Anicinapek Nation Gathering Brings Treaty Knowledge Speakers

From left to right: Lindsay Sarazin (Pikwàkanagàn), Denyse Nadon (Apitipi Anicinapek), Margaret Edwards (Apitipi Anicinapek), Blair Beaucage (Nipissing), Tanya Matthews (Apitipi Anicinapek), Jomarie Einish (Whapmagoostui),
Sherry Baliss (Apitipi Anicinapek), Chief June Black (Apitipi Anicinapek), Shayne Sackney (Apitipi Anicinapek) and Catherine Murton Stoehr.

By Catherine Murton Stoehr

APITIPI ANICINAPEK NATION — It turns out that conversations about “treaties” or “treaties” held on land in the community can have quite a different tone than those discussions typically have in universities or courtrooms .

Tanya Matthews hosted the first inaugural Apitipi Anicinapek (formerly Wahgoshig) Treaty Knowledge Speakers’ Meeting to bring the knowledge she gained during her time at Nipissing University to her community to discuss and comment.

What resulted was a series of unapologetic, unapologetic talks about the moral and practical shortcomings of Canada‘s treaties with First Nations at first, and Canada’s subsequent breaking of those agreements. already unfair.

Apitipi Anicinapek’s chef, June Black, opened the event.

“I have a problem with the treaty, I don’t recognize it.”

Chief Black told members of her community and speakers gathered in person and via Zoom that during a recent visit to the community’s traditional home territory at Low Bush River, she was approached by a stranger who asked what she was doing. As a leader and member of Apitpi Anicinapek, Chief Black was offended to be interrogated in this way at this location. She explained to the rally that members of her community not only have a right to be in Low Bush River, but they have special obligations to the lands in their territory, including the ceremonies they hold each year and which are themselves “the basis of the treaty”.

“This is a very important event where we talk about the treaty and what we understand to be the treaty and it was not what they (the British/Canadians) put on paper.”

Chief Black underscored a common Indigenous critique of Canada’s colonial treaties and made a key distinction between the division of lands and the ceding of rights:

“Our people didn’t speak English or understand what they were signing. Our people had no problem sharing the land, but they did not realize that the colonizers were taking rights.

Blair Beaucage of Nipissing First Nation used Arthur Textbook’s concept of 0.2% economics to challenge the idea that Canadian treaties are “reciprocal” in practical terms. Manuel said that all reserve lands in Canada make up 0.2% of Canada’s landmass, which is not enough to support self-sustaining Indigenous economies.

Beaucage made the audience laugh by saying: “It’s not expensive! It’s really cheap, Canada!

Joan Marie Einish, a Naskapi Cree from northern Quebec and also a student at Concordia University, spoke about the origins of the much-vaunted James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

“The people from the Montreal hydroelectric dam wanted to come without consultation. People in our area have heard about it through the newspapers; no phone call to Council.

Einish said the communities have responded by forming a Grand Council which now guarantees that the Quebec government cannot ignore community rights. As for the deal itself, Einish concluded “I hate treaties, I hate deals with a passion.”

Apitipi Anicinapek is an Algonquin and Ojibway community. Fellow Algonquin Veldon Coburn, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, shared detailed information about a modern treaty, the ongoing Algonquin Land Claim.

Coburn described many of the problems inherent in making treaties in Canada.

According to Coburn, when the Calder decision made it impossible for Canada to continue ignoring treaty obligations, the Algonquins of Ontario and Quebec researched their traditional territory and submitted a “petition to the Crown.” in March 1983 asking for recognition of their property, support to eliminate the squatters, and compensation.

After nearly three decades of negotiation, the current agreement proposes to return 476 square kilometers, far less than the 36,000 claimed by the Algonquins. The returned land is to be held by the Algonquins as regular property with no aboriginal land rights attached to it. Coburn said this arrangement could lead to the sale of the new lands as the lack of rights and a wide distribution among plots reduces their usefulness as a land base.

Coburn explained that the Algonquins’ bargaining power has been diluted by a 7,000-member group called the Algonquins of Ontario who support the weakened terms and can easily beat even full Pikwàkanagàn members. Ontario is now pushing for the agreement to be signed quickly.

Longtime Apitipi council member Betty Singer reminded the group of the modern context in which treaties are honored or ignored as she shared her own life story, including several years confined to one internment centers for aboriginal children in Canada.

Of course, Canada’s breaking of treaties does not mean that treaties in general are bad. Tanya Lukin Linklater, Alutik of Kodiak Island in Alaska from the villages of Afognak and Port Lions, reminded the group that “treaties are vows to one another, a covenant relationship and unchanging in nature.”

Like Chief Black, Lukin Linklater said treaties emphasize sharing and “cannot be changed or modified. As promises made to the Creator, they last forever and are not destroyed by the practice of breaking.

Denise Nadeau, a member of the Apitipi community and a doctoral candidate from Athapasca University, offered a way forward with the concept of “responsibility of kindness,” which she says is “a more Indigenous way of being responsible. . We need to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations to move treaty processes forward – not just with the colonizers, but also with our families.

It was also expressed that non-Indigenous people need to take the time to learn and talk to their own community about the specific terms of actual historic treaties, making a strong case that treaty obligations are not academic or cultural. , but material and legally and ethically binding.

Blair Beaucage suggested a strategy that did not rely on the cooperation of non-Aboriginal Canadians.

“Should [Nipissing First Nation] form a government with the other Robinson Huron Nations? They understand us. We’re not going to rip us off and give us 0.2%. We’re going to do a little better than that. Are we starting to buy back land? It sucks that we have to, but how else can we participate in the economy? »

Beaucage also recognized the treaties.

“Chi-miigwech to our ancestors for what they did in signing the treaty by which we are supported and from which we have protections. What they did saved our land rights. Individually we are rich enough, we have to figure out how to be rich as nations. Chi-miigwech to our ancestors!

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