Open your mind and imagine: you are born into a family connected to the divinity of nature. You are the inheritors of the vast realm that has been passed down for generations. Newcomers arrive and they greet you with guns, germs, and steel. You were not equipped for this age of global capitalism. The invasion stripped you of your cultural, social, and material wealth, leaving you with shattered pieces of the beloved life that your people once had.
Why Should I Care?
You may think that this may not have happened to you or any of your friends, but this is sadly not the truth. Waterloo Region is located directly on treaty land and this affects each and every one of us, indigenous or not. The treaty in question is known as the Haldimand Treaty: or in other words the treaty of the stolen land you live on.
The Haldimand treaty, also known as the Haldimand Grant, was signed on October 25 1784, when Sir Fredrick Haldimand, Governor of Quebec at the time, decided to sign a decree that gave the Six Nations an amount of land in response to the appreciation and compensation for their allegiance to the British during the American Revolution.
However, since 1784 there have been multiple discrepancies between both the Crown and the Six Nations regarding treaty rights and the tract right of ownership. The conflict is an ongoing motion.
Society has purposely placed us in a spot of deception and misconception. The land on which you are standing today, is part of this treaty that we recognize through land acknowledgements daily. Right now, you are likely standing upon stolen land that still and should belong to the Six Nations if you live near and around Waterloo.
Did you know the Six Nations of the Grand River has repeatedly attempted to regain its promised treaty land? Acknowledgement of land has developed in a way that leaves people feeling they recognized something, when actually having no understanding of this acknowledgement. But were you ever told that you live on stolen land – that the Haldimand Tract still belongs to the Haudenosaunee, Anishnaabe, and Neutral Peoples? Decolonize your mind and search past points of deception.
Shortly after the American Revolution, the Haudenosaunee lost much of their ancestral homeland (upper New York). Mohawk leader, Joseph Brandt, as well as some representatives of the Six Nations Confederacy, pressured the British government to give them a laying grant to replace the land that they lost during the American Revolution. This was when the Haldimand Grant was complete.
Shortly after the grant was completed, the Haudenosaunee and the British crown disagreed over the Proclamation, while the crown still looked at the land as their property – as if the Haudenosaunee were technically leasing the land from the crown. The appointed official that Frederick Haldimand appointed himself, Thayendanegea, argued that the land was actually Haudenosaunee land and that selling it to the settlers would actually be an economical importance to the future of the Haudenosaunee.
As time passed, the Crown stole parts of Haudenosaunee land without any compensation to the communities impacted by Crown developments. The tract of land stretched 10 kilometers deep on each side of the Grand River. This covers a generous proportion of Southern Ontario and to this day there are only a small amount of reserves left on this tract.
The land was further reduced after a dispute made by the Crown who launched a survey of the land. The conclusion of that survey was that the land was taken from these people without compensation which went contrary to the original agreement that the Six Nations and the Crown originally agreed upon. This is why we're talking about this today. We are still on their land. It is stolen. There has been no appropriate compensation, nor restitution.
Lack of recognition and comprehension of our truthful history fails indigenous peoples across Turtle Island daily. Tarnished government integrity has existed as long as government itself has, and leaves room for citizens to wonder to themselves: “What other indigenous injustices are still hidden by a falsified history book?”
Think Further: Solutions
Solutions to this conflict are still blurry and difficult to come to agreement between communities. Different stakeholders will hold various perspectives, which all play an impact on how changes and solutions are implemented. Think of solutions on two scales, individual and collective.
Individually, you can promote solutions by bringing more people into the discussion. Educate your friends and family the next time you hear a land acknowledgement at an event. Spreading the word is essential to bringing more perspectives and therefore solutions into the complex discussion. What movements can you support as an individual to create further engagement on politically intricate solutions?
Collectively, how can we, as a collective, make a change. ISA is looking to publish the voices of our indigenous students through various forms of medias and arts. Speaking out as a collective will further share our stories to people who can further the political battle. Speak up, show out, decolonize. Speak your story, there are many people who want to hear it. Amplifying our voices will allow our communities to become more recognized, and therefore successful in our overall goals.
Come out to ISA’s First General Meeting on October 27th 2022, 2:30pm @ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) in United College. We will open a group discussion on solutions, both individual and collective on how our community can contribute to the solutions for appropriate recognition and reconciliation.
Filice, Michelle. (10 November 2020). Haldimand Proclamation, The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/haldimand-proclamation.