What do you know about where you live? More specifically, what do you know about those who lived there before you? Before this land was called Canada, it was home to hundreds of different peoples and nations. MCC Canada’s offices are located in Winnipeg, Man., on Treaty 1 territory—the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
Acknowledging and learning about the history of the land we live on is one way we can continue to build relationships between Indigenous and settler peoples. This summer we are spending time learning more about the land where we live or visit. We asked some of the staff from MCC Canada to reflect on or share stories of the land around them. We’re also inviting you to do the same and we’d love to hear what you find out—tag us in your social media posts or use #mccpeace to make sure we see it.
If you want to learn more about the land you’re on, use tools like native-land.ca to see which Indigenous peoples called it, and still call, it home.
MCC photo/Laura Kalmar
Our family lives in Winnipeg, where we spend a lot of time at a park near the site of the Battle of Seven Oaks. The battle was a deadly encounter between rival fur-trading companies. Tensions were high after a decree had restricted the sale of pemmican, a nutritional staple for both Métis and settler groups. The 1816 battle was recently in the news thanks to a local elementary school.
Classes visited the monument commemorating the event and realized it told only one side of the story—that of the Red River settlers. So a group of students advocated for a new monument that would include the Métis side of the story. There are always multiple perspectives on history. I’m thankful we’re beginning to listen to a wider variety of voices as we explore the history of our land. - Laura Kalmar
MCC photo/Brian Dyck
I recently biked about 40 km south of my home in Winnipeg to the Mennonite Memorial Landing Site where the Russian Mennonites first came to this area. It is at the spot where the Rat River flows into the Red River near Niverville, Manitoba. According to a cairn erected there, they arrived on August 1, 1884.
Thirteen years earlier, almost to the day, in 1871, Crown officials negotiated and signed Treaty 1 with representatives from seven First Nations at Lower Fort Garry, along the Red River.
While I was at the landing site, I thought about the relationship between the Mennonites and the Indigenous people over the last 147 years. As a result of the treaty, Mennonites were welcomed here and given two reserves—the East Reserve and the West Reserve—to live on and farm, and many prospered. The Indigenous people who agreed to allow us to settle here on their ancestral lands were in return promised support and full access to the land to ensure their livelihoods, prosperity and identity as well. Sadly, this relationship between the Indigenous people and those who came here later has not always been good. - Brian Dyck
MCC photo/Emily LoewenRecently my family camped at Nutimik Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park in Manitoba. I used native-land.ca to learn that this area is the homeland of the Métis nation and the Anishinaabe. We’ve camped in the park for years, but until now I never realized the name Whiteshell comes from a small, sacred white shell in Anishinaabe history called the megis. Some Indigenous peoples believe the shells were part of the creation of humankind. - Emily Loewen