Gathering of people at We Are All Treaty People celebration
MCC photo/Bethany Daman

Settler and Indigenous Canadians gathered to celebrate relationships at the We Are All Treaty People celebration.
 

For many in attendance, the recent “We Are All Treaty People” celebration in Winnipeg was a step in bridging a gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in Manitoba.

The celebration, which was organized by MCC, the Society of Friends, Winnipeg and the Presbytery of Winnipeg, took place at The Forks on September 17. It was billed as a way of building and celebrating relationships and raising awareness around Treaty One using food, storytelling, crafts, music and dancing.

Clayton Sandy attended the We Are All Treaty People celebration and facilitated a closing Circle of Reconciliation.MCC photo/Bethany Daman

Clayton Sandy, who comes from Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation and lives in Winnipeg attended the event and facilitated a closing Circle of Reconciliation. He identified with the purpose of the celebration.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission went on for eight years and people saw it on the news and read about it in newspapers, but very few settler people actually came out and were engaged in the process. Little events like these are important for everyone to meet, talk and share.”

Settler and Indigenous people make buttons at the We Are All Treaty People celebration. MCC photo/Bethany Daman

Erika Enns Rodine drove from Altona for the celebration because she saw an opportunity to teach her six-year-old daughter Freya about the injustice of colonization.

“I came after church this morning and am trying to teach my daughter about the story of this country and to work for justice.”

Freya adds: “We need to say a thousand sorrys.”

MCC Manitoba’s Indigenous Neighbours program coordinator, Kerry Saner-Harvey, says Indigenous people are often more invested in treaty relationships, but it's important for settler people to know they have a significant role to play.

MCC’s Indigenous Neighbours program works to strengthen those relationships through partnerships, education and advocacy campaigns.

“MCC’s mission and vision talks about right relationships and living into right relationships,” he says. “This celebration is one step moving in the direction of saying we need to honour the agreements that have been made in the past and are still legally binding today. We also need to work for justice and equity for all people living on Turtle Island.”

Loretta Ross, the treaty commissioner for Manitoba.MCC photo/Bethany Daman

The Treaty Commissioner for Manitoba, Loretta Ross, who comes from Hollow Water First Nation acknowledged the relationship between settler and Indigenous peoples hasn’t always been positive, but it’s always existed.

“This relationship was bonded and sealed with the signing of the treaties,” she told the crowd. “Like every relationship, it has its peaks and valleys, its compromise and silent treatment. For many years it’s been silent.”

Ross urged everyone in attendance to keep pushing forward towards right relationships.

“Don’t be afraid. Fear holds us back in so many ways… We can do this together. Don’t give up,” she says.

For more information about MCC Manitoba’s Indigenous Neighbours program and about working towards right relationships, visit http://mccmb.ca/indigenous-work
 

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