Talking treaties, research, and rights

Talking treaties, research, and rights

A pair of recent events are furthering Indigeneity and reconciliation on campus through knowledge sharing.

By Phil Gaudreau

November 13, 2018


[Queen's University Gazette Indigenous Research Workshop Graduate Studies]
Following the Indigenous Research Workshop talks, attendees broke into groups to discuss specific issues and ideas. (University Relations)

The relationship between settlers and Indigenous Peoples was in focus at Queen’s on Friday and Saturday.

A workshop focused on research collaboration with Indigenous communities was hosted through the day on Friday. The workshop is an initiative of the School of Graduate Studies in collaboration with the Aboriginal Council of Queen's University. The event was focused on creating mutually respectful relationships as the basis for research collaborations between academics and Indigenous communities.

It was followed by the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, which began Friday night and concluded Saturday evening. It is the twentieth year Queen’s has hosted this symposium, which unites students, faculty, staff, and community members on campus for a discussion about contemporary Indigenous issues. The symposium was hosted by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

Friday morning started with a keynote address by Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and was followed by a panel featuring academics and community leaders who have experience in research collaborations.

In the afternoon, workshop participants had an opportunity for group discussion and reflections. Over 100 students, faculty, and community members attended the event.

“A similar event last year taught us that there is a depth of interest at Queen’s in learning about the distinct requirements of research with Indigenous communities,” said Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies, who co-chairs the planning group with Marlene Brant Castellano.

A key message throughout the workshop was that, when it comes to doing research with Indigenous communities, the relationship is as important as the research.

[Queen's University Gazette Ovide Mercredi Assembly of First Nations]
Ovide Mercredi. (University Relations)

“We are raised as Indigenous Peoples to solve problems and not just study them, so my experience with research growing up was not positive,” Dr. Mercredi said. “Nowadays, our people are more interested in data to support our negotiations. It cannot be a unilateral decision to study us – it has to benefit us directly and be guided, controlled, and interpreted by us.”

In the evening, as part of the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation – located southeast of Peterborough – spoke at the symposium about the displacement of the Mishizaagig – the Missisaugas – from the Bay of Quinte region in 1783. He co-presented alongside Laura Murray of the Department of English and Cultural Studies, who has been researching “The Crawford Purchase” of lands in the Ka’tarohkwi area by the British.

Saturday’s program featured a panel on modern treatymaking, featuring Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities at Queen’s, who co-presented with Edward R. Johnson (a Huu-ay-aht citizen) on the “Maa-nulth Treaty”. The panel also four graduate students who spoke to “Treaty Making for Community Engaged Research”.

There was an additional panel later in the day looking at historical perspectives on treatymaking from three Mohawk experts. In the afternoon, attendees heard from Aaron Franks, a senior manager with the First Nations Indigenous Governance Centre, in a talk which looked at treaty education.

[Queen's University Gazette Laurel-Claus Johnson Indigenous Symposium]
Laurel Claus-Johnson spoke at Friday's workshop, and joined the Knowledge Symposium. (Supplied Photo)

“Events like these are an important way to influence long-term institutional change, enhance the support available on campus for Indigenous students and researchers, build stronger relationships with local Indigenous communities, and honour the original inhabitants of the land – the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation).

The symposium was conducted with respect for traditional Indigenous protocols. Indigenous community members and Elders were in attendance as participants and stakeholders, and presentations were in the form of a talking circle. The sessions were moderated with the use of a talking stick and given guidance by Elders.

Approximately 170 students, faculty, staff, and community members took part in Friday's events, while another 63 came to campus on Saturday.

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs