WEYBURN - The City of Weyburn and a community-based organizing committee will be hosting a flag-raising and treaty recognition ceremony on Monday, Sept. 26, at Memorial Park beside City Hall.
People may be wondering why this is happening, and what the significance of it is, as the treaty covering this part of Saskatchewan, Treaty 4, was signed a long time ago, on Sept. 14, 1874, at Fort Qu’Appelle.
Is there a reason for a ceremony to be held today, in 2022, by the City of Weyburn?
The lands under Treaty 4 encompass most of southern Saskatchewan, and were the lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakota First Nations, as well as part of the Metis homeland.
At most every public event held today, an acknowledgement of Treaty 4 is made, and then the event proceeds.
A treaty, first of all, is a formal agreement between two parties, in this case the First Nations people and the Crown, or the federal government.
According to the Office of the Treaty Commissioner for the province of Saskatchewan, any current disputes arise from how these two parties view the treaties.
The commissioner said that the federal government sees the treaties as land surrender agreements, where First Nations believe that the spirit of the agreement is what’s most important.
As to what each party gains from the treaties, the commissioner states the following: “In Saskatchewan, the Treaties contained benefits for both settlers and First Nations. First Nations received annuities, education, reserves, as well as farming assistance. Settlers received access to farmland and resources, as well as the peace and goodwill of First Nations.”
As one of the organizers of the ceremony, Doug Loden, explained, “As the City is recognizing the treaty, in my mind it’s expressing respect for the First Nations. It’s a step in a better direction in giving respect to the First Nations.”
At the end of the month, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be marked on Friday, Sept. 30, and this ceremony is actually a step in that direction, towards reconciliation with those who lived on the land here for centuries before we came along to settle it.
There are many complex issues that need to be dealt with between Canada and the First Nations peoples, and this is a process that will take many years to work through as we dialogue with each other and understand each other’s points of view better.
This is just one step in that process, and any journey that one undertakes begins with the first step. The hope is that residents of Weyburn will take that step and show respect and acknowledgement of the First Nations.