Tag Archives: treaty one land

Why Did You Say That?

At the beginning of each tour we give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery we provide this welcome.

” We acknowledge the Winnipeg Art Gallery in located on Treaty One land, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Dene, Dakota and Oji-Cree Nations and the homeland of the Métis.”  

Treaty One by artist Robert Houle

At the beginning of November I gave a drop- in guided tour to about twenty five gallery visitors and after the tour was over one woman stayed back to ask me a question.  She was from a small rural community some distance from Winnipeg.  “I was just wondering,”  she said, “why you made the statement you did at the beginning of the tour.”

The Delegate- Portage and Main by indigenous artist Jeffrey M. Thomas

 I said that kind of acknowledgement was now common place at many Winnipeg venues.  I told her I’d heard similar statements before concerts at the Centennial Concert Hall, at Winnipeg Jets games at the MTS Centre, at plays at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, before morning announcements at public schools I visit and that in my church such an acknowledgment was either announced or printed in our church bulletin each week. She seemed surprised to hear this. 

Treaty Map of Canada

I told the woman indigenous people had lived on the land where the art gallery stands for thousands of years, long before settlers from other parts of the world came to Canada.  I explained the importance of respecting that and recognizing that although treaties regarding land use were negotiated with indigenous groups their understanding and the settlers’ understanding of those treaties was very different. I said acknowledging the original inhabitants of the land was a way to work towards a more respectful relationship with indigenous Canadians and to actively pursue a path of reconciliation.  

Treaty medal on display at the Glenbow Museum

The woman thanked me for my explanation.  She said she had learned something new.  I had too because I’d really had to think about how I could best answer her question.  And maybe that’s exactly why we acknowledge our presence on Treaty One land before every tour at the Winnipeg Art Gallery………… because it makes us all take a moment and think about something really important. 

Other posts……..

Gone But Not Forgotten

Ojibwa in Paris

Build Your Own

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Filed under Art, Canada, History, winnipeg art gallery

On Treaty One Land

winnipeg_art_gallery-public-domainI work part time at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as a tour guide. We are encouraged to begin our tours by acknowledging that the art gallery building stands on Treaty One Land, land that once belonged to Canada’s Indigenous people.

All gallery guides have participated in training sessions where we learned about the negotiations between Indigenous leaders and the British Crown at Lower Fort Garry in 1871. These negotiations resulted in the signing of Treaty One. The Crown and the Indigenous leaders had very different ideas about what that treaty meant. Indigenous leaders believed they were signing a treaty that would protect their way of life and create a framework for sharing the land with settlers. The British Crown understood the land was being ceded to them.

Shaman Never Die by Jane Ash Poitras Part of the Making Good exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Shaman Never Die by Jane Ash Poitras Part of the Making Good exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

During our training sessions we also learned about the residential schools set up by the government to educate Indigenous children. Through first hand stories and artifacts we came to understand how devastating the residential school experience was for many Indigenous children.

A current exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is called Qua’yuktchi’gae’win or Making Good. Through a variety of art pieces it catalogues the Indigenous experience and pays tribute to the strength that has allowed many to survive and even thrive despite its hardships.

university-of-winnipeg-public-domainI have a second part time job at the University of Winnipeg. If you go to their website you will read that, “Our University is located on Treaty One territory, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation.  The University and the Forks of the City of Winnipeg sits at the crossroads of the Anishinaabe, Metis, Cree, Dakota and Oji-Cree Nations.”

The University of Winnipeg is committed to the goal of someday having a province where the percentage of Indigenous people with a university education is equal to that of the general population. I am beginning to see that commitment as more Indigenous students join the department where I work.

human-rights-musuem-winnipegI live just down the street from the Human Rights Museum and have a membership there. Museum literature clearly states they are on Treaty One land at the historic location of Métis occupation and Louis Riel’s provisional government, on a site that’s been a meeting place for Indigenous people for over six thousand years. I know from visits to the museum they have multiple exhibits exploring the legacy of residential schools.

treaty-one-brochureDuring services at the Mennonite church I attend in Winnipeg we have begun to acknowledge during worship that our church stands on Treaty One land. I was recently asked to create text for a brochure our church published titled We Are On Treaty Land. It states our church acknowledges much of the land referenced in Treaty One was given to our Mennonite ancestors when they immigrated to Manitoba.

bethel-treaty-one-brochureThe brochure indicates our desire to recognize the important contributions of Indigenous people to the history of the area where we worship, to learn from their spirituality and culture, and to work at building strong respectful relationships with one another that will result in reconciliation.

My friend Mindi launches her book Subversion at McNally Robinson

My friend Mindi launches her book Subversion at McNally Robinson

I was at a book launch at McNally Robinson on Tuesday night and the staff person who introduced the launch reminded us we were on Treaty One land.

Many institutions are beginning to publicly acknowledge they stand on land that once belonged to Indigenous people. It’s a good first step toward reconciliation. But what is the next one? 

Other posts…….

Abstract and Frustrating

Edge of the Trees

Discovering a Grandfather Rock

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Filed under History