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An essay using the Canada in the Making site
It's said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Was this the case with the treaties made between European colonial
administrations and the Canadian government when dealing with Aboriginal
peoples? This essay will require students to examine the motives
behind treaty documents and government act and to examine the documents
in order to determine whether government or colonial negotiators
lived up to the promises they mouthed.
Social Studies/History; Ages 15 and up
Some have suggested that Europeans wanted only to seek a peaceful
coexistence with Aboriginal peoples; others have argued that Europeans
wanted only one thing - space to grow, at any cost. This is an essay
requiring that students describe the historical events surrounding
a treaty, decide what the motives were behind the treaty, and make
an argument on whether or not the treaty accomplished what it was
intended to accomplish.
Research for this essay should require should take one to four
hour-long sessions online, depending on whether students have access
to a print versions of relevant documents. Note that the sources
used in ECO can be printed from the browser and then photocopied.
Outcomes (WCP, APEF); Expectations
(ON); Objectives (QC)
Table of Curricular Relevance
by Course and Province
British Columbia and Yukon Territory
Newspaper clippings or other periodical information on land claims
settlements of treaty disputes in Canada.
Computers with Internet access
Student Work Sheet
Early Canadiana Online: Canada in the Making
Essay writing resources can be found in the Writing An Essay
unit on ECO:
Other links can be found in the Student Work Sheet.
Students will need
An understanding of Web navigation symbols, tools and terminology,
particularly the tools used in ECO.
Familiarity with research and essay writing skills.
A basic understanding of the basic shape of Canadian history,
especially from the 18th century on.
Introduce the subject of treaty disputes. Ask students what they
think the origins of the dispute are. Discuss:
Hand out Student Work Sheets and introduce students to the ECO
Canada In the Making Web site. Read the assignment and discuss.
Students may work in groups to facilitate research online. The documents
are summarized in the Canada in the Making section on "Aboriginals:
Treaties and Relations," and the documents are liked from there.
Students should write the essay from a particular perspective. For
- Colonial officials/the Canadian government bargained from a
position of strength, and had no intention of honouring its promises
in the long run. The Aboriginal nations involved had little choice
but to accept.
- At the time the treaty was negotiated, Europeans had only a
weak foothold on the continent, and negotiated in the hopes of
finding peace/gaining allies. The Aboriginal nations involved
hoped to use a more friendly European power to stave off a less
friendly on. Both intended to honour the treaty.
Hold a discussion. Did the motivations behind treaty making change
over time? In what ways, if any? What key events changed the balance
See the Suggested Rubric.
Students map the key events that changed the balance of power between
Aboriginal peoples and European colonial governments/the Canadian
federal government. Place the major treaties on the timeline.