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  • (Saskatchewan) Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC)

    The Office of the Treaty Commissioner, started in 1989 by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and the Government of Canada, was created to guide both parties through their differing view on Treaties, by giving recommendations for Treaty land entitlement and education, including the creation of the Saskatchewan Treaty Kit Teacher Resource for grades kindergarten to 12.

  • 1967 Calder Case—Nisga’a Tsilquoti’in First Nation

    The Calder Case (1973)—named for politician and Nisga’a chief Frank Calder, who brought the case before the courts – reviewed the existence of Aboriginal title (i.e. ownership) claimed over lands historically occupied by the Nisga’a peoples of northwestern British Columbia. While the case was lost, the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling nevertheless recognized for the first time that Aboriginal title has a place in Canadian law. The Calder case is considered the foundation for the Nisga’a Treaty in 2000 – the first modern land claim in British Columbia that gave the Nisga’a people self-government.


  • Aboriginal Rights

    The legal rights that Indigenous peoples in Canada hold as a result of their ancestors’ long-standing use and occupancy of the land. These rights uphold the customs, practices and traditions that form a group’s distinctive culture. Examples of such rights include the right to hunt, trap and fish on ancestral lands. Aboriginal Rights are protected in the Constitution Act of 1982.

  • Aboriginal Title

    A legal term that recognizes Indigenous interest in land. It is based on the long-standing use and occupancy of the land by today’s Indigenous peoples as the descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada. In Canada, where no treaty has been signed, Aboriginal Title exists.


  • British Crown & the Dominion of Canada

    British (Northern) North America became a colonial member state of the Dominion of Britain (later named Canada) in 1759 at the end of the 7 Years War and defeat of the French on the Plains of Abraham in near what is now Quebec City. At that time all of the land became under the control of British Monarchy and subsequent kings and queens, as British Crown designates, which still holds to this day.


  • Cayuga

    The second most western nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Cayuga keep safe the south-western door to the other nations of the Haudenosaunee.

  • Chief

    A band or First Nations chief is someone who is elected by members of a recognized governing First Nation council on an Indian Act reserve to govern for a specified term. A hereditary chief is a separate title for a possible separate leader, who is given the power to lead by cultural protocol. Hereditary chiefs inherit the title and responsibilities according to the history and cultural values of their community.

    Other designations of chief, such as Grand Council Chief, National Chief and Regional Chief are all titles for individuals who have been elected by constituents of there region, who are registered members the Indian Act’s federally recognized First Nations.

  • Colonial, Colonization & Colonial Power

    Colonial refers to an aspect of something belonging to, or displaying characteristics that identify with being part of a retaining authority.

    Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of a colony in one territory by a political power from another territory.

    It is a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony and often between the colonists (those perpetuating their colonial power) over most often an Indigenous population, otherwise considered the colonized.

  • Confederacy of the Five Nations

    The Haudenosaunee consists of an original five nations (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, & Mohawk), who came together and buried their weapons of war under the tree of peace. The Hiawatha Wampum Belt signifies the union of the confederacy.

  • Constitution of Canada

    A legal document that outlines the organization and functions of Canada’s government system and guarantees the civil rights of its citizens and permanent residents.

  • Cree

    The largest First Nations group in Canada. They are closely related to the Ojibwa, Algonquin, and Innu peoples. “Cree” also refers to a language in the Algonquian language family, which consists of several dialects.


  • Elders

    Some Indigenous communities identify an Elder as an individual whose wisdom about spirituality, culture and/or life is recognized and given designation by the community. Elders can be any age although they generally have many years of experience. The use of the term is most common amongst Anishinaabe and Cree communities, but in other societies, such as the Haudeonsaunee, the equivalent term is referred to as Clanmother or Cultural Advisor in the modern context. Community members will normally seek the advice and assistance of elders in various traditional and contemporary areas.


  • First Nations Treaty and Inherent Rights

    Inherent Rights that a person is born with into their Nation. Canada has recognized that Indigenous peoples have an inherent right to self-government.


  • Governance

    The process of interaction and decision-making by a group (government, organization, family, etc) that lead to policy, rules, and regulations to guide that group.


  • Haudenosaunee

    Haudenosaunee is a Cayuga word for people of the Longhouse, and refers to a group of nations that have joined together as a confederacy (Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, Oneida, Mohawk.)


  • Indigenous

    There is no official definition of Indigenous peoples. In part, Indigenous communities, peoples and nations can be described as those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories. Other terms include Aboriginal Peoples, Natives Peoples, Original Peoples, or First Peoples. It is often used to refer to Indigenous peoples in Canada and internationally.


  • Kaianere’kó:wa or Great Law of Peace

    The Great Law of Peace was established by the Peacemaker as a method for the Haudenosaunee to gather as one to think about decisions concerning the whole of the Five Nations Confederacy.

  • Kaswentha or Two Row Wampum Belt

    The Kaswentha is a sacred Wampum Belt that is the basis of agreements between Haudenosaunee nations and other nations of people. It is regarded as an important covenant agreement that sets the framework for future agreements.

    The background of white beads is meant to symbolize the purity of the agreement and some say that it represents the “River of Life”. The two separate rows of purple beads are made to sympolize and encompass the two separate peoples who are involved in the agreement. Some say it also represents the spirits of Haudenosaunee and non-Haudenosaunee people, past, present and future.

    Between the two rows of purple beads are three rows of white beads. These were made to stand for the Friendship, Peace and Respect between the two nations. As much as the rows keep the two nations separate from interference with each other’s lifeways, and yet also in binding them together.


  • Maliseet

    A First Nation people located across the northeastern corner of North America, now covering the Canadian Maritimes, Gaspe of Quebec, and the New England region of the United States. The Mi’kmaq were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, a loose coalition of First Nations, including the Maliseets, Pasamaquoddy, Penobscots, Eastern and Western Abenaki nations.

  • Mi’kmaq

    A First Nation people located across the northeastern corner of North America, now covering the Canadian Maritimes, Gaspe of Quebec, and the New England region of the United States. The Maliseet were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, a loose coalition of First Nations, including the Mi’kmaq, Pasamaquoddy, Penobscots, Eastern and Western Abenaki nations.

  • Mnemonic

    A mnemonic device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval in the human memory.

  • Mohawk

    The most eastern nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Mohawk keep safe the eastern door to the other nations of the Haudenosaunee.


  • Nations or Nation State

    A nation or nation state is a geographical area that can be identified as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign nation. A state is a political and geopolitical entity, while a nation is a cultural and ethnic one.


  • Oneida

    The second most eastern nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Oneida keep safe the south-eastern door to the other nations of the Haudenosaunee.

  • Onondaga

    The central nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, as well as the nation that continues to watch and keep the Council Fire of the Great Peace lit. The Tree of Peace is located on the land of the Onondaga.


  • Passamaquoddy

    A First Nation people located across the northeastern corner of North America, now covering the Canadian Maritimes, Gaspe of Quebec, and the New England region of the United States. The Passamaquoddy were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, a loose coalition of First Nations, including the Mi’kmaq, Maliseets, Penobscots, Eastern and Western Abenaki nations.

  • Peace and Friendship treaties

    To strengthen their commercial interests, a significant part of which was the fur trade, the British and the French developed various types of agreements and alliances with First Nations.

    These “Peace and Friendship” treaties were expected to end hostilities between the Europeans and the First Nations and establish ongoing peaceful and respectful nation to nation relations. Included in these treaties were agreements establishing how treaty partners would coexist, the granting of rights and permissions to the settlers and their colonial governments on areas such as land and resources and assurances that First Nations would continue to trade with the Europeans, and to hunt, fish, and observe traditional customs and religious practices. No First Nations land was surrendered in these treaties.


  • R. v. Sioui

    A Supreme Court of Canada ruling on 24 May 1990 that transformed understandings of treaty interpretations in Canada. Four Huron-Wendat brothers were charged and convicted of illegally camping, starting fires and cutting down trees in Jacques-Cartier Park in Quebec. The Supreme Court found that the brothers were justified in arguing that a document signed by General James Murray and the Huron-Wendat chief in 1760 protected their right to use the land for ceremonial purposes and overturned the convictions.

  • Royal Proclamation (1763)

    King George III of England issued a Royal Proclamation to organize England’s newly acquired lands. The Royal Proclamation makes reference to lands belonging to the “Indians”. Only a representative of the British Crown had the right to purchase these lands from them, in the name of the sovereign, at a public assembly. This protected First Nations from private land usurpation and established the grounds and requirement for the treaty process in what would become Canada.


  • Seneca

    The western most nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Seneca keep safe the western door to the other nations of the Haudenosaunee.

  • Sovereignty

    First Nations believe treaties were entered into on a nation-to- nation basis, meaning that authority/jurisdiction over land, resources and people actually resides in the First Nation itself and not with Canada or the Crown.

  • Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples

    A permanent committee in Canada established by the Senate to study matters of all Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples of Canada.


  • Treaties

    Treaties are internationally building agreements between sovereign nations. Hundreds of treaties of peace and friendship were concluded between the European settlers and First Nations during the period prior to confederation.

    These treaties promoted peaceful coexistence and the sharing of resources. After Confederation, the European settlers pursued treaty making as a tool to acquire vast tracts of land. The numbered treaties 1 through 11 were concluded between First Nations and the Crown, after Confederation. Modern Treaties take the form of Comprehensive and Specific Land Claims.

  • Treaty Annuity

    Payments paid annually on a national basis to registered “Indians” who are entitled to treaty annuities through membership to bands that have signed historic treaties with the Crown.

  • Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM)

    The Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba is a neutral body, created through a partnership between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Canada, with a mandate to strengthen, rebuild and enhance the Treaty relationship and mutual respect between First Nations and Manitobans as envisaged by the Treaty Parties.

    In 2010 the TRCM in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations and the federal government created the Treaty Education Initiative and as of 2017, a tool kit for grades kindergarten to 12 have been available for integrating First Nations history, knowledge, teachings and ceremony across all schools in the province.

    A theatre play written by Ian Ross and called Kinikinik, was created to educate and share experiences relative to Treaty and the Treaty relationship is available through the TRCM.


  • Unceded Territory or Land

    About 89 percent of Canada’s land area is designated as Crown land. In many areas, Crown land is unceded territory or land, meaning that “Aboriginal Title” has neither been surrendered nor acquired by the Crown through a legal treaty or “purchase” agreement.

  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    In 2010 Canada endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration addresses both individual and collective rights, cultural rights and identity, rights to education, health, employment, language, and others. The declaration was over 25 years in the making with input from working groups with global reach and participation. Around the world, 144 states have signed on to the declaration.



  • Wampum Belt

    Beads usually fashioned from quahog, whelk or other shells. Used in trade and as a record of political accords and important events by Eastern Woodland and Haudenosaunee nations. Nations used a belt made with wampum to pledge the truth of their words. Wampum signified a spiritual commitment to act, work and relate in a certain manner. Decorative and symbolic, they were also signs of high office.

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