Treaty 2 Territory – It was a privilege for me as the Health and Wellbeing Keeper to spend four days in the traditional territory of Treaty 2 at Riding Mountain from August 19 -23rd. It was a bittersweet moment in time to be a part of the Treaty 2 commemoration event.
It was a time to realize the great loss of the ancestral lands and resources but it was also a time to appreciate the vast beautiful lands that once belonged to our ancestors who lived a good life – mino bimaadiziiwin – in balance and harmony with the land, air, animals, and water. Imagining how they fished, hunted, and picked berries, medicines and other nutrients from the land. It was four days of reconnecting, learning, listening to the history, the culture and teachings of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers.
Meeting so many Local Nations citizens and leaders who came from within the territory, First Nations outside the territory and non-First Nations citizens was both difficult and yet uplifting at same time. It was difficult to see the many non-First Nations visitors enjoying the ancestral land, benefitting economically in Riding Mountain, passing resorts and cabins and realizing the local First Nations have access to only a tiny bit of it. Something went wrong. It made one realize and understand the loss from signing the Treaty and the broken promises.
However, it was uplifting at times and brought hope to see all the different Nations coming together, meeting friends, learning about the Nationhood of Treaty 2 and its history and culture. All came together to watch the dancing, the performers, singing, being a part of the giveaways that is integrally part of the kindness and generosity of the First Peoples. All were welcome, no matter if they were from British Columbia, Toronto or local.
Feasting together and seeing the smiles and laughter from the Elders, adults and children was inspiring. It made me hopeful and understand that more of this needs to happen. More understanding, connecting with the land, generosity and reconciliation for the next generations so that in 150 years (or sooner) from now, the next 150 gathering will be one of equality and celebration that all benefit from Treaty 2, the lands, resources, and wealth.
It was a time to feast together and honour the lands which were taken from First Nations – I truly hope that the visitors realize this and want to reconcile and co-exist together.
From a health and wellbeing perspective, fully implementing Treaty 2 and self-determination will restore mino bimaadiziiwin in many ways such as access to land, wealth, economy, and culture. It is time to give back more of Riding Mountain and lands within Treaty 2 to the Local Nations. Events such as this is one of many ways to educate and bring awareness to non-First Nations on the importance to implement the promises and rights within Treaty 2.
Last modified: August 30, 2021