1764: An Enduring Relationship

In this lesson students explore the Treaty of Niagara as a foundational relationship in the creation of Canada.

Created by Nathan Tidridge 

Posted September 1, 2018

Lesson Overview

In this lesson students explore the Treaty of Niagara as a foundational relationship in the creation of Canada. They investigate how this familial relationship, created by Treaty, was meant to be the foundation for the interactions between First Nations and non-First Nations.

Time Required

One class period

Historical Thinking Concept(s)

  • Establish historical significance
  • Use primary source evidence
  • Take historical perspectives

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Recognize that a Treaty is a relationship.
  • Recognize and appreciate that the Crown is bound in family relationships with First Nations.
  • Explore the historiography concerning the founding of Canada.

The Lesson Activity

Activating: How will students be prepared for learning?

  • Place sticky tack on the back of each BLM.
  • Invite a student to come to the front of the class and affix the documents in chronological order. Guide and assist as necessary. [Wampum Belt, BNA Act, Indian Act]
  • Open the class to questions and discussion.
  • Repeat the activity with following criteria, places the documents in order based on:
    • Order of national importance [This is an opinion]
    • Order of long-term or enduring importance [This is an opinion]
  • Explain that history consists of facts and opinions and that historians have their own perspectives when assigning significance to an event or person.
  • Affix BLM #7.1: British North America Act, 1867. Explain that historians have typically marked Confederation and the BNA Act as the point of beginning for the modern county of Canada. Explain that they will be exploring another starting point: The Treaty of Niagara, 1764.

Acquiring: What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals?

  • Pass out several copies of the Treaties and the Treaty Relationship issue of Canada’s History magazine and instruct students to read the article “Ties of Kinship” (page 23-25).
  • Write the word “CONTRACT” on the board at the front of the room.
  • Ask students to brainstorm (individually or in groups) words that come to mind when they think of a contract. (To help them get started it helps to ask them for examples of contracts that they might be familiar with i.e. cellphone contracts).
  • Invite students to write words around “CONTRACT” at the front of the room. Some common words/phrases include: signed, written, law, money, penalty, lawyers, fees, long, hard to read, legal, legalese, official and strict.
  • Explain that Treaties were never meant to be thought of as contracts, but rather as relationships. Cross out “CONTRACT” and replace it with “RELATIONSHIP.”
  • Ask students to think of their closest relationships (family or best friends) and see if the words they came up with to describe a contract still work?
  • Brainstorm (individually or in groups) words that come to mind when they think of a strong relationship before writing them at the front of the room. Some common words/phrases include: communication, trust, support, friendship, loyalty, dependability and love (if students don’t come up with love on their own, it is important that this is added to the list by the teacher).
  • The love that is often understood is that felt between members of a family – allowing for disagreement and tension. Familial relationships require flexibility to exist. As new dynamics or unforeseen conflicts emerge, they have to be negotiated by the Treaty partners in order to have them incorporated into the relationship (a relatable example often given to students is their own relationships with their siblings – often chaotic, but with a foundation of love at their core).
  • Explain that since Treaties are made between the Queen/Crown and First Nation peoples, the Queen and her representatives are often seen as being in family relationships with First Nations
  • Encourage questions. Check for understanding.

Applying: How will students demonstrate their understanding?

  • Read the excerpt from the article on page 23:

Until recently, both Confederation and the Indian Act that flowed from it eclipsed most of the Treaty relationships in the minds of the non-Indigenous population of Canada. Today the country finds itself returning to the Treaties and rekindling the relationships that sustained the many peoples on these lands for centuries prior to 1867.

Part of this national introspection is the rediscovery by non-Indigenous peoples of the ancient and enduring relationships between First Nations and the sovereign that were enshrined in such Treaties as the 1764 Treaty of Niagara.

  • Lead a guided discussion.
  • Hand out copies of BLM #7.4.
  • Instruct them to complete. Guide and assist as necessary.


Extension Activity

Research and collect historical and modern images that reflect Treaties as relationship.

Lesson Plans

The Numbered Treaties

In this lesson students explore the Numbered Treaties with a focus on present relevance, historical and contemporary relationships, and the benefits shared by all Canadians.

Understanding Spirit and Intent

In this lesson students explore the concept of spirit and intent by investigating the differing views held by the Crown and First Nation peoples at the time of Treaty-making.

Nations in Waiting: The BC Treaty Experience

In this lesson students investigate the Treaty experience in British Columbia by exploring and assembling a timeline of significant events.

Treaties: Partnerships and Relationships

In this lesson students explore the enduring and cross-country nature of the Treaty relationship in Canada making note of challenges and opportunities.

Reimagining History: "Righting" Treaty Wrongs

In this lesson students examine the idea of justice as it applies to Treaty interpretations.

Land Claim Literacy and Algonquin Territory

In this lesson students explore First Nation title to land in the Ottawa Valley.

Relevance of Treaties Today

In this lesson students explore the enduring relevance and continued significance of the Treaty relationship in Canada and consider the Treaty relationship as a path toward reconciliation.

Treaties of Peace and Friendship

In this lesson students use primary source material to explore the constitutional validity of the Treaties of Peace and Friendship.

Relationships, Respect and Reconciliation

In this lesson students explore James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the resulting affects on Cree and Inuit.

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