August 3rd is an important milestone in Canadian history. On this day, in 1871 at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, the Ojibway, Swampy Cree, and the Crown signed the very first treaty, known today as Treaty No. 1.
The first of 11 treaties that would eventually be signed, it paved the way for establishing a relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples and set the precedent that allowed Canada to become a country.
The negotiations of Treaty 1 spanned over a period of eight days from July 27 to August 3. Led by governor Archibald, the Canadian government invited the indigenous communities to attend negotiations for a treaty at Lower Fort Garry, at the time it was also known as Stone Fort. Approximately one thousand indigenous individuals attended, including adults and children of all genders, who were led by a number of chiefs, including Mis-koo-kenew or Red Eagle, Chief of Peguis First Nation and a man who had frequently approached the Crown requesting better treatment for his people.
While Treaty No. 1 created a framework for how indigenous and non-indigenous people would live together and respect one another, there are countless examples where Canada did not live up to these agreements. In fact, within a year of the agreement, the indigenous communities approached the Canadian Government declaring that a number of the items promised within the treaty had not been handed over to them yet, even though the Crown continued to settle the land based upon the terms of the Treaty.
To mark this important day in Canadian history, Siloam Mission held a training session on the Seven Sacred Teachings, and discussed how staff can walk these teachings, both at work and out in the community that we now call Treaty One. It is never too late to learn and to honour the Ojibway and Swampy Cree signatories, who 152 years ago, dreamed of a land that was fair and just for all.
Recognizing the signing of Treaty One is just one small example of how Siloam Mission is committed to Truth and Reconciliation. As a Christian organization, we believe it is our moral duty to acknowledge the role that the church played in the operation of residential schools, a key factor in the establishment of a multi-generational trauma that even today, continues to negatively impact First Nation, Inuit and Metis Canadians.