Treaty medal in Saskatoon high school empowers students
- NC Raine | March 22, 2019
We Are All Treaty People was the prevailing message during a treaty medal unveiling ceremony at Oskāyak High School on Wednesday.
Joined by dignitaries from around the Saskatoon, students and faculty of Oskāyak High School celebrated a new treaty medal to be permanently displayed in their high school. The medal is a replica of the same treaty medals presented to First Nations Chiefs in commemoration of their treaties with the British Crown.
“It is a monumental day for you here at Oskāyak. The commitment to honouring our treaties through the display on this treaty medal is an act of recognizing your roles and responsibilities as treaty people,” said Amy Seesequasis, the director of the speakers bureau at the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. “We have an ongoing commitment to each other to honour those treaties.”
The medal portrays an important moment of fellowship, with a Treaty Commissioner and First Nations man shaking hands. Between the two men lies a hatchet buried in the ground. The medal also depicts the sun, grass, and water - signifying the perpetuity that treaties embody.
Tia Jackson-Angus, a student at Oskāyak High School, spoke on the meaning that treaties continue to have with her and her fellow students.
“As a young Indigenous person, (...) treaties make me feel empowered. It’s part of who I am. There are generations of people standing behind me. I see the chiefs, I see the youth of my generation and generations around Canada,” said Jackson-Angus. “This medal represents that things will get better. One of the many steps on the path of reconciliation.”
One of the most instrumental individuals in the foundation of the province was Chief Mistawasis, who made history as the first signatory of Treaty 6. Daryl Watson, Chief of Mistawasis Nehiyawak, reflected on the influence and vision of Chief Mistawasis.
“He saw change, and wanted to see the outcomes in a positive way, so he agreed to participated in treaty. Now, 143 years later, we have the opportunity to share that vision,” said Watson. “It is incumbent upon you as young people today to understand who you are. Be proud of who you are, speak your language. This is the connection we're making as part of the treaty.”
City councillor Cynthia Block also spoke on how treaties act as a constant guide through generations.
“We use these rituals and symbols to help guide us, to help us remember things about who we are. The treaty medal helps us to remember we are treaty people,” said Block. “But it’s more than our history. It’s a living document, it is a promise, and it is a future of which we will all depend.”