On Thursday, April 6, 2017 RJC’s Native Studies 20 class hosted a Treaty Day.
What is Treaty Day? Why is commemorating Treaty Day important? Why do the treaties still matter today? If we are all treaty people, why do only First Nations commemorate Treaty Day? These were some of the questions the Native Studies 20 class sought to answer as they prepared for RJC’s Treaty Day.
The goal of Treaty Day was to learn about treaties in general, and to commemorate the signing of Treaty 6, the Treaty that determines how we govern the land that RJC is on today. We also wanted to celebrate and cultivate the spirit of working together and living in peace on the land.
Treaties are part of our history, but they are not stuck in history; we are still living under the legal framework of the treaties. We need to remember how they were signed, and what was promised in them. We are all treaty people, and we all have a role to play.
The day began with everyone gathering in the chapel at 11:15 AM. The Grade 8 Social Studies class from Rosthern High School joined us for this part of the day, along with other guests from the community. The Native Studies students taught the group about the history of treaties in Canada, complete with props and slides.
Guest speakers shared on different themes. Harry Lafond, from the Office of the Treaty Commission, talked about the importance of Treaty Day and how it impacted him as a child on Muskeg Lake First Nation. Myriam Ullah, from MCC, shared about the importance of Treaty Day for settlers and people of faith. And Ric Driediger, a member of the Peter Pond Society, shared about the historic context of Treaty 6, and the conditions that led to its signing. Between the speeches, the RJC Chorale performed the Iroquoian song, Yanaway Heyonah, and the Worship Arts 20 class directed those in attendance in some singing. Door prizes of deer sausage were also distributed to the delight of the winners. Thanks to Brody Arnold and Dawson Beebe for donating the wild meat.
To close the program, Native Studies teacher Ryan Wood closed with a peace prayer and Harry Lafond presented all the participants with replica treaty medals to commemorate the event.
At lunch students and featured guests were treated to bison burgers on fresh bannock, with the bison generously donated by Henry and Erna Funk. Thank You! The cooks also made three sisters soup, made from squash, corn and beans, which is a traditional First Nations soup.
Following lunch the students went outside to compete in grade-team relays based on Treaty era skills, which involved spear throwing, archery, woodcutting, canoe portaging, and spike hammering. In the end the Grade 12 class finished the circuit in the fastest time.
To close out the day all the students enjoyed an open-air bannock and jam bake around the campfire.
Thank you to the Native Studies 20 class for hosting this event that promoted Treaty education and community building. Treaties are part of our heritage. It hasn’t been easy, and mistakes have been made, but we have avoided civil war by learning to live together. Hopefully days like this one help us remember to continue in that rich tradition.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in this successful event!