Today, representatives from the Treaty One Nation, the Government of Canada, and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba gathered at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site to mark the 150th anniversary of the making of Treaty No. 1 in 1871.
Since the Royal Proclamation in 1763, treaties have served as the foundation of Crown-Indigenous relations in Canada. Four years after Canadian Confederation, the first of the numbered treaties with local First Nations was made at Lower Fort Garry in Manitoba on August 3rd, 1871. Chiefs, Knowledge Keepers, federal and provincial government representatives and other local community members gathered at Lower Fort Garry to commemorate this significant anniversary.
Treaty No. 1 was the first of the numbered treaties that helped establish Western Canada, and was made with the understanding that the Treaty would be in place for “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows”. Indigenous peoples have lived on the land we now call Canada for thousands of years, with their own unique cultures, identities, traditions, languages and institutions. Treaties are agreements between the Crown and the First Nation signatories to establish how each would coexist within the territory of the treaty. Treaty No. 1 is the first in a series of 11 treaties made between 1871 and 1921.
Following weeks of commemorative virtual activities to mark the 150-year milestone, the ceremony began this morning with a Pipe ceremony and drum song by the Spirit Sand Singers, followed by an Honour Ride into the Lower Fort Garry site led by Indigenous horse riders, Oyaate Techa – which showcased a horse and rider representing each Treaty One Nation. The formal proceedings were led by MCs Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party, and Emilie McKinney from the Treaty One Nation Youth Council. Speeches were given by representatives of Treaty One Nation and delegates from both the federal and provincial governments. The ceremony also included a special presentation of newly minted Treaty Medals to each Treaty One First Nation by the Commissioner for the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, Loretta Ross.
Visitors explored a curated exhibit that included a Treaty No. 1 document replica and other important historical items connected to the August 3, 1871 signing. Attendees were also able to experience three new Indigenous structures, two birch bark wigwams and a tipi, recently erected at the site’s Indigenous encampment by experienced Indigenous builders from Roseau River First Nation, one of the seven First Nation communities represented by Treaty One Nation.
Parks Canada is pleased to continue working closely with the Treaty No.1 First Nations to advance reconciliation efforts, while increasing Indigenous history and perspectives at Lower Fort Garry and other Parks Canada places. Treaties remain critical agreements that guide the relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations in Western and Territorial Canada. Canada is committed to honouring the intent of these treaties.