Living on Treaty land

Niigaan Sinclair spoke about the meaning behind being a Treaty person and living on Treaty land during a presentation at the Kenmor Theatre, June 3. Sinclair is a Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and an award winning columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. (RILEY FRIESEN/Morden Times)

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Niigaan Sinclair spoke about the meaning behind being a Treaty person and living on Treaty land during a presentation at the Kenmor Theatre, June 3.
Sinclair is a Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and an award winning columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press.
“This is an area profoundly affected by Treaty,” Sinclair said. He added other communities throughout Manitoba are talking about Treaties and what it means to be a Treaty Person, with the province of Saskatchewan close behind. The Truth and Action Working Group hosted the event to help bring awareness towards the relationship between the “settlers”, the First Nations people, and the treaties made between the two groups.
Sinclair explained how the Treaties were created and how they have affected the population in both positive and negative ways. Sinclair said, in 1763, the king of England, King George III, decided to change some of the laws of the land to have more control over the entire population, placing the First Nations people in Canada on to reserves.
According to his presentation, the significant change in law has affected the relationship between the First Nations and the rest of the nation ever since, creating a rift between the two cultures.
Sinclair spoke about the importance of communities talking about Treaties and what they mean for the future.
“People, perhaps, most critically need to understand it in this area because this is an area in which Indigenous people have been removed from, and part of that history is understanding about ‘how did that happen?’,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair showed a “slightly outdated” map of Canada from 2006 to see where the most Indigenous people were living in the country currently with Southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario containing the largest population outside of the Northern Territories. Out of these three regions, the southern half of Manitoba has the largest percentage of Indigenous peoples living outside of the reserves.
Sinclair commended the Truth and Action Working Group and the attending audience to learn more about the issues, struggles and the progression behind the approach to the relationships between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada. “Treaties are about the future, not the past,” said Sinclair. “The country is moving very quickly, and if we don’t move along with it, we will be left behind.”
Sinclair noted he has seen more change and advancement toward reconciliation in Southern Manitoba than anywhere else in his travels across the country.

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