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Indigenous Studies Ph.D.

Gzowski College at night with lights reflecting off the Otonabee River
Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies Ph.D.

Talking About Treaties: Panel Discussion Sparks Conversation at Trent for Treaties Recognition Week

Panel discusses the importance of treaties in local region

Trent University’s Gzowski College played host Thursday, November 9 to a panel discussion exploring local treaties, perspectives of the Mississauga Nation, and responsibilities of settler Canadians in relation to these treaties. Panelists included Elder Doug Williams of Curve Lake First Nation, Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation, and Phil Abbott, Indigenous Studies Ph.D. candidate at Trent, and was moderated by Anne Taylor, Curve Lake Cultural Archivist.

The event coincided with Treaties Recognition Week, held annually during the first week of November to honour the importance of treaties and to help Ontarians learn more about treaty rights and treaty relationships.

“Treaties are one of the foundations of Canada. For far too long, education about treaties has not been a part of the education of Canadians,” said David Newhouse, one of the organizers of the event and director of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies. “We were pleased to host this forum and hope that it makes a contribution to improving the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canadians, and to the creation of places of dignity and respect for Indigenous peoples within the Canadian federation.”

The panel discussion followed the viewing of a new film featuring a number of Curve Lake historians, examining the treaty history in Ontario and the local area.

“The treaty talk that took place at Trent University last week filled me up with pride,” explained Chief Phyllis Williams, Curve Lake First Nation. “From the coordination and planning, the panel of knowledge keepers and spokespeople, the room full of interested citizens, all in spite of the wintery weather, were all very encouraging. It is our time to be at the forefront of educating the true history of this country and its First Peoples.  This education of treaties is key to achieve understanding, truth, and embrace meaningful reconciliation for us all. We are treaty people.” 

“Treaties were often seen as the end of something, and maybe that explains why they were not talked about a lot in school. The irony of this is that treaties are the legal basis for non-Indigenous people to be here and are central to our history of this place,” explained Mr. Abbott, a Ph.D. candidate and Trent Indigenous Studies instructor, whose research focuses on the impacts of early European settlement in Mississauga territory and how this history has been ignored and distorted. “There is no closure with treaties. We cannot see them as the end of something. They are a part of a relationship and they are often not viewed that way.”

The event was co-sponsored by Curve Lake First Nation, the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Posted on November 16, 2017