A journey to understand our treaties.
It is important to understand treaties because they impact every Canadian. Treaties are a significant part of our history, present and future, and learning about Treaties is a key part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. Modern Treaties also play an important part in implementing the rights affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The Gordon Foundation’s Treaty Simulation model provides a hands-on learning experience to help participants understand treaties in Canada. Participants experience the realities of negotiating and/or implementing part of a Modern Treaty or Self-Government Agreement, or a historic treaty in the context of current events. In teams representing Canada, a province or territory and an Indigenous Nation or organization, participants are guided by experienced advisors as they present their positions and negotiate to reach an agreement. Participants gain knowledge and skills for life, along with new connections and an interest in learning even more about treaties.
In 2017, partners of The Gordon Foundation raised an important issue: the lack of knowledge and interest in Treaties across Canada. Partners noted that it was imperative for the next generation of leaders to be engaged and interested in the treaties. The Foundation began to work with its partners to document existing resources that engage people in treaties, identify any gaps, and propose recommendations. Over 50 resources were identified in the report, Treaty Negotiators of the Future, as well as a series of innovative recommendations to fill the gaps.
Since 2019, in collaboration with various partners, The Foundation has been implementing the report’s recommendation of facilitating Treaty Simulations for emerging leaders. National and regional simulations have taken place both online and in-person, and have included Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Simulations have focused on issues around land claims, self-government, self-determination and numbered treaties.
In 2020, The Foundation and its partners developed the Understanding Our Treaties website as an online resource to support the Treaty Simulation model, helping to further your learning about treaties in Canada and their impact on your life.
The Treaty Simulation is a powerful experience that has resulted in:
- Increased interest, understanding and engagement in treaties or other agreements
- Skill-building in negotiation, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, public speaking, leadership, proposal writing, consensus building and team-work
- Knowledge transfer from experienced advisors
- Intergenerational connections
- Network-building for future support and learning
Find out what people are saying about Treaty Simulations – read the testimonials below from participants and advisors who have joined us.
“I loved getting to learn from actual history makers who have been part of Indigenous negotiations before. The Elders involved were incredible at supporting, facilitating, inspiring and that part was just unbelievable.”
“The process was so inspiring to be a part of. I now understand the feeling of having so much at stake.”
“I believe I gained critical thinking skills. Speaking skills. We had to have the ability to think quick when we were asked a question and were expected to formulate a response.”
“It has inspired me to work with other people and organizations”
“I liked learning the different perspectives of the different levels of government, and learning how to work as a team with other Indigenous people”
“I was personally inspired by so many of the youth and I was so grateful to have the experts there to support us. We all grew over the weekend, we all gained confidence in our roles.”
“It gave me a great understanding of my Modern Treaty and its influence throughout my daily life.”
“I loved learning a more localized negotiation strategy. Focusing on the Yukon [First Nations] really helped me gain a better understanding of my own history.”
“I feel like it’s the perfect time for me to get reconnected with my culture, because I know our culture is the true essence of who we are as Indigenous peoples. This event ignited a fire under me and gave me the inspiration I needed.”
“I have so much appreciation for our negotiators and their hard work.”
“The event allowed us to share our experience and in-depth knowledge, while helping emerging leaders build real skills to effect change in their communities and to advance a path towards self-determination.”
“This work I know is an investment in our youth and also an investment in our future as Indigenous Governments and Citizens.”
Dave Joe | Negotiator, Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement
“It was an historic event, and more simulations are needed.”
John B. Zoe | Negotiator, Tłįchǫ Agreement
“What’s happening here is a transfer of knowledge.”
Dr. Joseph Gosnell | Negotiator, Nisga’a Treaty