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.

Created by Connie Wyatt Anderson Governor General's History Awards Winner 2014 recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching 

September 1, 2018

Lesson Overview

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.

Time Required

One to two class periods

Historical Thinking Concept(s)

  • Establish historical significance
  • Use primary source evidence
  • Identify continuity and change
  • Analyze cause and consequence
  • Take historical perspectives
  • Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Appreciate and value traditional First Nation territory.
  • Explore the historical and contemporary relevance of Treaties. 
  • Recognize the Treaty relationship as a national experience. 
  • Examine the Treaty relationship as part of the process of national reconciliation.

The Lesson Activity

Activating: How will students be prepared for learning?

As Winnipeg Jets fans make their way to their seats and players prepare to stand on home ice for the national anthem, an announcement fills the downtown arena. The message — believed to be a first for an NHL team — says the Jets play on Treaty 1 land which consists of "original territories of Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation."

  • Ask: What is this type of public statement called? [Traditional/Territorial Acknowledgement statement, etc.]
  • Probe: Have you heard a statement like this before? Does our school have one? [If so, read it]. Is the word “Treaty” in our school’s traditional territory acknowledgement statement? Why or why not?
  • Encourage and lead an all-class discussion.

Acquiring: What strategies facilitate learning for groups and individuals?

  • Divide the class into 8 groups.
  • Hand each group the title of an article from Treaties and the Treaty Relationship written on a small piece of paper [explain that they are the titles of articles of the special issue]:
    • We Are All Treaty People
    • Interpreting the Treaties
    • Ties of Kinship
    • The Numbered Treaties
    • Living Well Together
    • Algonquin Territory
    • Nations in Waiting
    • Finding Forgiveness, Building Trust
  • Instruct a student from each group to read aloud the title.
  • Lead an all-class discussion: What themes do you see? What commonalties are there? Focus on particular word/s: kinship; living well; nations in waiting; forgiveness; trust; “We Are All Treaty People.”
  • Ask: How are Treaties relevant today? 
  • Ask: How are Treaties and reconciliation connected?
  • Encourage questions and discussion.

Applying: How will students demonstrate their understanding?

  • Pass out copies of the magazine to each group. Instruct them to read their assigned article and write a 50 – 75-word overview.
  • Complete BLM #9.1: We are All Treaty People.
  • Instruct a student from each group to read their group’s summary to the class.
  • Cut the summary box and tape/affix the article to the appropriate area on the map of Canada.

Materials/Resources

  • Article titles from Treaties and the Treaty Relationship written on slips of paper [8 titles]
  • Large wall map of Canada that students can tape/draw on (consider making a bulletin board display)
  • Printed copies of BLM# 9.1 – 8 or more for rough copies
  • Scissors, tape

Extension Activity

Assign students a Canadian town/city and have them prepare a traditional territory acknowledgment statement based on research of that area’s history between First Nation peoples and newcomers. Include Treaty acknowledgement (if pertinent) and specific First Nation cultures.

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.

1764: An Enduring Relationship

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

Reimagining History: "Righting" Treaty Wrongs

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

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.

Land Claim Literacy and Algonquin Territory

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

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