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This Rich Land

An activity for use with the Canada in the Making site

Student Guide

When Europeans first came to North America, they were looking for a shorter route to the gold, spices and silk available in Asia. But once they were in North America, they discovered that there was much more of value than just a route of passage. Beaver furs for the hat-making craze in Europe and farmland for settlers, for example. Of course, there was a problem: about 2 million Aboriginal peoples already occupying the land - their land - which now makes up Canada. Much land - especially in the United States - was simply seized. Ownership and rights over other land was obtained by treaty. Some of these treaties were signed when Aboriginals had little choice, either due to economic hardship or defeat in battle. This activity will give you the opportunity to study each of the treaties and the geography of the lands involved to learn what it was (and is) that makes Canada so valuable.

The first part of this activity is to investigate the geography and resources of a treaty area. Though there have been many treaties large and small over the years, some stand out. Choose one of the following treaties (or groups of treaties):

1. The Peace and Friendship Treaties
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals2_e.html
#peace

2. The Upper Canada Treaties
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals4_e.html
#uc

3. The Selkirk Treaty
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals5_e.html
#selkirk

4. The Province of Canada Treaties
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals5_e.html
#pc

5. The First Five Numbered Treaties (choose one)
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals7_e.html
6. Numbered Treaties Six and Seven (choose one)
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals8_e.html
7. Numbered Treaties Eight to Eleven (choose one)
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals10_e.html
8. The Williams Treaties
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginal11_e.html
#williams

9. The James Bay and Northern Québec Native Claims Settlement Act, 1975
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals12_e.html
#jamesbay

10. The Western Arctic Claims Settlement Act, 1984
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals13_e.html
#western

11. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, 1993
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/aboriginals/aboriginals13_e.html
#nunavut

For each of these treaties, you will need to research and present information all of the following, if applicable:

  • What resources were available in the treaty area(s)? Which were Europeans most interested in?
    Consider mineral resources, flora and fauna, and the availability of arable land, as well as other factors. Also investigate and identify resources which may not have been important when the treaties were signed, but have become important since (e.g.: oil and gas, hydro-electrical generating possibilities).

  • Identify the Aboriginal peoples living in the area.
    What aspects of their way of life were threatened or at risk, if any?

  • What events led to the treaty or documents in this section?
    Were there any events in the period immediately preceding the treaty or treaties which led to the negotiation?

  • Was the treaty (or treaties) fair to the Aboriginal peoples in the area? Why or why not?
    Compare what was gained to what was lost. How did Europeans or the Canadian society of the time benefit from the treaty?

  • What are the long term implications of this treaty or treaties?
    Do Aboriginal peoples have concerns over the sharing of resources, or the interpretation of the treaty? Were any aspects of resource sharing later renegotiated or settled in court? Explain and describe.

Discuss all answers with your group. Develop a presentation for the class using methods and media approved by your teacher.

Your work may be presented in point form or as paragraphs. The use of illustrations is encouraged.

Note on Sources

Primary sources
Primary sources represent the most authentic resources that historians can draw upon. The documents that you will be using below may be digitized, but are still considered primary sources. Try to use the sources available on the "Aboriginals: Treaties and Relations" portion of the Canada in the Making Web site to strengthen your arguments.

For tips on how to use primary sources, go to the "Using Primary Sources in Your Work" page.
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/guide/essay_e.html

Secondary sources
Secondary sources are works that interpret or analyze an historical event or phenomenon. Generally the author is at least one step removed from the event. Although not as authentic as primary sources, secondary sources are still valuable.

Possible Sources of Information Online

Note: It is important to choose sources that are produced by reputable institutions or individuals. Such information is more likely to give you a balanced, neutral view and be prepared or reviewed by experts.

Numbered Treaties

Canada in the Making: An Overview of the Numbered Treaties
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/written/written_e.html

General

Canada in the Making: Aboriginals: Treaties and Relations
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution1_e.html

The Canadian Encyclopedia Online
URL: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com

Natural Resources Canada: The Atlas of Canada
URL: http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/index.html
URL: http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/maps/historical/indiantreaties/historicaltreaties

Indian and Northern Affairs: The Historic Treaty Information site
URL: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/pr/trts/hti/site/maindex_e.html

National Archives of Canada: Pride and Dignity
URL: http://www.archives.ca/05/0501_f.html (French)
URL: http://www.archives.ca/05/0501_e.html (English)

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