By Derrick Kunz, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
A celebration was held Feb. 11, 2020 at St. George Catholic School in Saskatoon, to mark the official installation of a Treaty 6 medal at the school, the culmination of a long process of learning about treaties, their history and the meaning of treaties for all Canadians today.
The program included a program of guest speakers and a range of presentations by students.
Kindergarten, Grade 1 and 2 students presented a poem expressing how we are all treaty people. Students from Grade 4 gave a report about treaties, and students from Grade 5 spoke about the history of Métis people, and about flags.
Grade 6 and 7 students gave a presentation about residential schools, which included a student reading the Government of Canada’s official apology, which was read by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons on June 11, 2008.
Fr. Matthew Ramsay, pastor of St. Anne Parish (which has also installed a Treaty 6 Medal in its church building) offered a prayer and blessed the school’s Treaty 6 medal, a replica of medals originally presented to participating First Nations in commemoration of Treaty 6.
The medal portrays a treaty commissioner grasping the hand of a First Nations man. Between them lies a hatchet buried in the ground. Other symbols on the medal are grass and water, symbolizing that the treaty is to “last for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow.”
Other special guests at the St. George School celebration included:
- Chief Roy Petit of Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation
- Trish Greyeyes, Executive Operating Director from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner
- Elder Roddy Stonne: traditional prayer, smudge and blessing
- Gordon Wyant, Deputy Premier, Minister of Education and MLA for the area
- Diane Boyko, Chair of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools board of education
The idea of installing Treaty 6 medals in Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools was inspired by the installation of a Treaty 6 medal at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in June 2016.
École St. Paul School principal Ted View wanted a similar visual testament to reconciliation at the school (the first of the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools to install a medal) and his efforts laid the groundwork for future medal installations in the school division. The process of installing a Treaty 6 medal at that first school in 2018 was not only about educating the students, but also about informing and involving the Catholic school community council, parents and the wider community. Several Catholic schools have subsequently used the École St. Paul School process as a model to install Treaty 6 medals in their school.
The long-term plan is to have a Treaty 6 medal in all 50 Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools as a visible testament and reminder that we are all part of treaties and that everyone must do their part to achieve reconciliation.