So You've Just Found Out You're a Treaty Person. What Do You Do Now?
1. Consider your own immigration story. What brought your people to this country? Were you leaving persecution? Were you looking for land? Did your grandfathers and grandmothers hope to give you a better life? What benefits did you experience in the new country? What was your family's work ethic? Education? Culture? Spirituality? What did your people do for fun? Did anyone every return to the old country?
2. Research your treaty history. Did your people come to Canada under one of the numbered treaties? Under one of the pre 1850 treaties? Did your family immigrate where a treaty was never negotiated, like parts of British Columbia (and if so, contemplate the implications of there being no treaty.) Have your people received their rights as negotiated in treaty? (Access to land, opportunity to make a living, freedom to co-exist?)
3. Research treaty history from the other side of the handshake. Read up on the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Read the treaty where you live today. Read the Indian Act which was never part of the treaties (imposed on First Nations with no consultation or permission.) Listen to elder stories about disease, residential school, Indian Agents, reserves, pass and permit system, and racism. Listen to elder stories about family, community, the land, spirituality, simple joys, forgiveness, resilience, and taking responsibility. Do a lot of listening. Have the people on the other side of the handshake received their rights as negotiated in treaty?
4. Get ready to take a stand. Do your homework. Stretch those muscles. Respect your limitations. Take a stand.