To continue Quint’s honouring of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, Lyndon Linklater of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, presented a day-long workshop on Indigenous People and the Treaties.
Lyndon used stories, magic, humour, music, and facts to deliver his message. With the Office of the Treaty Commissioner’s Speaker’s Bureau since 2000, Lyndon shared many stories from his own personal history and his family’s as Indigenous people in Saskatoon.
Supported with numerous facts, photos, examples, and historical context, we learned about:
- First Nations People and who they are;
- what is a Treaty?;
- the Indian Act, Residential Schools and what happened to the Treaty relationship; and,
- that Reconciliation is how we, as Canadians, must move forward as a nation.
Important lessons included learning about First Nation worldviews and how they differ not only from those of non-indigenous Canadians but within different First Nations. But, notwithstanding these differences, Lyndon taught us that, as a single human race, we must all live in balance — as well as personally being in balance in mind, emotion, body, and spirit.
An equally important take-away emphasized how First Nation traditional cultures are oral, that the 11 numbered Treaties are “all about the land”, and that they confer rights and benefits both in spirit and in intent. First Nation cultures, which are “thousands and thousands” of years old, are not merely historical artifacts but living and evolving as conditions, technologies, and conditions change.
The Treaties were “made” not “signed” between sovereign nations, based on honour and trust. But we also learned how First Nation People have been and are, too-often, “ripped-off”.
First Nation People made treaties to share, not sell, the land. Being controlled by the Indian Act, however, — to the point of imposing complicated formulas that decide who even is an Indian — ultimately threatens First Nation People with the extinguishment of their rights.
The history and implications of the Indian Act and of the Residential Schools were and continue to be the worst reasons. Control, oppression, and vastly different interpretations and implementations of the treaties, especially with respect to the land (Mother Earth) being ongoing difficulties.
Intergenerational trauma, poverty, and loss of culture — especially language — are very common for all Indigenous peoples. Lyndon mentioned several times that so many are “PTSD’d” as a result.
And, unfortunately, the ‘divide-and-conquer’ mentality used since before Confederation by the Federal Government to enforce these controls happens within some First Nation governments to benefit certain families at the detriment of others.
To summarize, a quote Lyndon shared with us is very appropriate:
How you see your world
will impact on how you act as a people.