NAN prepares for 100 year anniversary of treaty signing

An article in Tuesday's Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal provides a brief history of the signing of Treaty # 9 and several Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities. This year and next will see NAN communities coming together with people from across Canada to celebrate this historic event. See the entire article below (the link to the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal article is at the end).

NAN prepares for anniversary
By Staff - The Chronicle-Journal
January 12, 2005

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation is preparing for two busy years as it plans a series of events commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the 100-year-old James Bay Treaty.

The treaty deals with 200,000 square miles of land in Northern o­ntario from the Quebec border to the Manitoba border, and north to James and Hudson bays.

Fifteen communities will be marking the centennial: Mishkeegogamang, Fort Hope, Marten Falls, English River, Fort Albany, Moose Factory and New Post all signed the treaty in 1905, although many of those were known by different names then.

In 1906, Abitibi, Matachewan, Mattagami, Flying Post, Ojibeways of Chapleau, Moose Factory Crees, New Brunswick House and Long Lake signed. Again, many were known under different names.

Big Trout Lake, North Caribou Lake, Fort Severn and Winisk also signed the treaty, but not until 1929-30.

NAN is helping the 15 communities that signed in 1905 and 1906 with the centennial commemoration, aiding in fundraising and organizational duties, NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy said Tuesday, and several events are planned.

Things kick off Jan. 20 with a $125-per-seat fundraising gala at Thunder Bay’s Valhalla Inn. Former Lakehead University president Robert Rosehart — who also served as NAN’s chief negotiator during self-governance talks with the government — will make a keynote address dealing with the next 100 years of Treaty No. 9.

That’s a big theme for NAN, Beardy said, adding the organization wants to begin discussions with the government to improve relations with First Nations in Treaty No. 9 territory.

NAN is working o­n a treaty “report card,” which will be presented to the government with hopes that it will identify areas of concern and act as a basis for talks, Beardy said.

“When you look across Canada at other groups of First Nations and their relationship with (government), in some areas there’s a lot of progress, and o­ntario, unfortunately, is the furthest behind in dealing with aboriginal issues,” Beardy said.

He said First Nations in other provinces have used any means necessary — including legal — to make sure the government hears and addresses their concerns. Beardy said he has a mandate to explore all the options NAN has.

Other events planned include discussion panels o­n the impacts of Treaty No. 9 o­n NAN women and youth, and a thank-you gala in May.

The main commemoration ceremony will take place July 12 at Mishkeegogamang First Nation, the site of the first signing of the treaty. Among the invitees are Prime Minister Paul Martin, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Queen Elizabeth, although it’s not known if they will be able to attend.

Tickets to the fundraising gala are available at the NAN offices in Victoriaville, and corporate tables can be reserved.