The City of Markham takes Canada’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate and actions very seriously and views our municipal obligations as a critical component of the City’s overall diversity strategy and action plan.
What is Treaties Recognition Week?
Following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in 2016, the provincial government declared Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario. This opportunity allows us to raise awareness and honour the significance of treaties and treaty links between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Ontario. The first week of November is dedicated to enhancing Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples' relationships and creating more meaningful outcomes in our reconciliation efforts.
A treaty is a legally binding agreement between two or more nations, outlining rights, duties, and connections. Treaties are the foundation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples' relationships.
Why it’s important?
“We are all treaty people.” Much of what we have and enjoy in Ontario and Canada is a result of treaties and treaty contracts. The intended core of these treaties is to create partnership, with the goal of living in peace and cooperation. First Nations were intended to benefit from treaties in the areas of education, lands, health, economic aid, and provisions.
These formal agreements include promises, obligations and advantages for all parties involved. They were envisioned for us all to help each other, strengthening our relationships over time. When governments began to undermine treaty connections to exploit land and resources without providing benefits or equality to First Nations, promises were broken and obligations were not met.
When First Nations people began to demand respect, particularly regarding land, the Indian Act of 1927 made it illegal for them to hire lawyers or file land claims without the government's permission.
Treaties were not given constitutional protection until section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982. When we talk about reconciliation, it's important to remember that honouring our treaty connection is critical to moving forward in a respectful manner.
What it means for Markham
The Treaties' geographical scope overlaps with several other treaties. Treaty 13 includes the southwest portion of Markham. On August 1, 1805, representatives of the Crown and certain Mississauga peoples signed Treaty 13, often known as the Toronto Purchase. A total of 250,800 acres are covered under this treaty. The Williams Treaties, signed in 1923, cover the rest of the area. First Nations agreed to the 'Dish With One Spoon Treaty' in 1142 AD. For a long time, treaties and agreements have been our way of life. Let us use this occasion to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and mutual aid that the treaties were founded on.
We begin today by acknowledging the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples and their commitment to stewardship of the land. We acknowledge the communities in circle. The North, West, South and Eastern directions, and Haudenosaunee, Huron- Wendat, Anishnabeg, Seneca, Chippewa, and the Mississaugas of the Credit peoples. We share the responsibility with the caretakers of this land to ensure the dish is never empty and to restore relationships that are based on peace, friendship, and trust. We are committed to reconciliation, partnership and enhanced understanding.
In 2017, the City of Markham signed a historic agreement of cultural collaboration with Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope. Eabametoong First Nation is an Ojibway First Nation located 360 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario and 1,000 kilometers north of Markham. This first-of-its-kind agreement between an urban municipality and a remote northern First Nation community will enable us to partner together and to learn from one another. Specifically, the two communities have agreed to: promote social, cultural and economic collaboration; promote harmony and goodwill for the betterment of their residents; and raise public awareness.
Education is an important aspect of the City’s Truth and Recognition commitment and strategy to honour Indigenous Peoples, recognize our past mistakes, raise awareness and increase knowledge, and build respect and trust.
The City is providing ongoing education opportunities for staff including: inviting Indigenous speakers to lead discussions and educational activities; making available the KAIROS blanket exercise at staff events; rolling out Indigenous awareness training at Markham Public Library; and offering Indigenous-related collections and programs at Markham Public Library.
Markham’s newest community centre, Aaniin Community Centre and Library, was named after the Ojibwe word for “welcome”. The Ojibwe Nation is part of the Anishinaabe Peoples. Aaniin is a space where our communities can come together, listen, learn and share experiences.
A selection of resources are shared below to assist with improving our knowledge and understanding of Indigenous Peoples and their history.
Blog: National Indigenous History Month: A Month Dedicated to the Original People of this Land
Reading List: Children’s Books to Learn About Indigenous Culture
Reading List: Indigenous Reading – Residential Schools, Decolonization and Reconciliation
Government of Canada: National Indigenous History Month 2021
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
House of Commons of Canada Bill C-15 — An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program
University of Alberta: Indigenous Canada – Free Online Course
Talk4Healing – a Culturally Grounded Helpline for Indigenous Women
Indigenous History Month 2021 - Teaching History & Reconciliation
Indian Residential School Crisis Line (available 24 hours a day, nation-wide): 1.866.925.4419