Making Treaty 7
Friday, March 13, 2015
University of Calgary
MacEwan Conference & Events Centre
All cultures can best be expressed through their connection to “place.” The story of Canada is the story of the land we live on, that we cultivate, harvest and build our cities on. It is also the story of who each of us are, where we came from, and why we are here today. Looking forward, our story is the story of how we hope to live together in the future.
Our right to live and prosper here in Canada is made possible through a series of agreements laid out between First Nations and European new comers. The treaties outline how different cultures can co-exist as one country. Every Canadian benefits from privileges, and is bound by responsibilities, that stem directly from the agreements laid out between First Nations and European newcomers.
As a relatively young city, situated in the heart of ancient Blackfoot Territory, Calgary is still forming its cultural identity. But our collective understanding of even our recent history lacks appreciation for the promises made at Blackfoot Crossing in 1877.
Our treaty, Treaty 7, is one of a family of numbered treaties that were intended to define how two very different cultures might agree to coexist. But, to most people, Treaty 7 is an obscure, misunderstood historical artifact. This misunderstanding leads, in turn, to false assumptions, confrontation and distrust. A greater understanding of what Treaty 7 means, to each and every one of us, would be of great benefit to anyone who wishes for a better understanding of Calgary, its immediate history, and its potential as a truly great city.
Treaty 7 is one of a family of numbered treaties signed between Canada’s First Nations and Queen Victoria between 1871 and 1921. Treaty 7 paved the way for the peaceful settlement of the Province of Alberta. Making Treaty 7 tells the story of that historic agreement, and investigates the results and implications 137 years later. Making Treaty 7 is an ambitious project that will take many months to achieve. There will be many steps along the way.
The purpose of Making Treaty 7 is to produce an event, of both local and international interest, with the potential to act as a transformational agent for people of all ages and backgrounds. Inspired by the founding event of modern Southern Alberta, Making Treaty 7 invites Calgarians, and all Canadians, to consider an enlightened, sustainable future – for all of us.
The mandate of Making Treaty 7 is an evolving nexus of activities that includes themes of cultural literacy, education, historical commemoration, tourism, and a revitalized appreciation for First Nations identity and perspective. Making Treaty 7 invites participation from a broad cross-section of groups and institutions. The project’s potential for partnerships is limited only by the imagination, and by our actual capacity to respond to opportunity.
Making Treaty 7 was launched as a Cultural Capital of Canada activity under the auspices of Calgary 2012. Calgary 2012 ceased to operate at the end of its mandate, March 31, 2013. The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society is registered as a non-profit society in Alberta, and an application for federal charitable status is currently underway. Making Treaty 7 operates as a not-for-profit entity, governed by a board of directors.
Through its evolution, Making Treaty 7 has partnered with the following cultural institutions: Alberta Aboriginal Arts, Alberta Theatre Projects, The Banff Centre, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park, The National Arts Centre and One Yellow Rabbit. Community partners include Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, Aboriginal Futures Career & Training Centre, Calgary Public Library and the Native Centre at the University of Calgary.