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The Treaty – Guaranteed Forever?


Government/ Aboriginals
Division/Grade Level

Division III
Grade 7 – 9
Time Frame

Allow at least four 40-minute classes

Lesson Overview

This lesson is intended as a logical continuation of the historical study of the signing of the various treaties with the Native Indians. In order to adequately understand the difficulties presently experienced by the Canadian Aboriginals, it is important that the students examine the historical documents first. The teacher may wish to have the students work through the Peel Lesson Treaties Webquest before beginning on this lesson.


Students will understand how the Aboriginals of the present day are affected by the provisions guaranteed in the Treaties signed over 100 years ago.


Students will:

1. examine the federal government’s role in protecting Aboriginal rights;
2. examine the manner in which the Aboriginals have responded to the protection granted in the numerous treaties;
3. understand how the Aboriginals' rights are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
4. understand the government's strategies for assimilation of the Aboriginal people;
5. understand the status of the Aboriginal people.


Students will:

1. analyze contemporary and historical issues in order to form an opinion supported by information;
2. critically evaluate information from diverse perspectives;
3. communicate effectively through debate or written expression;
4. interact with others;
5. begin to distinguish the cause and effect of historical actions;
6. use and interpret historical maps.


Students will:

1. be encouraged to develop respect for the Aboriginal rights negotiated with the federal government;
2. recognize that First Nations people believe the treaties are sovereign agreements.

Curricular Connections

Social Studies
New Vocabulary

Peel Prairie Portal Resource Materials

* [no Peel # indicated]
Canada. Treaties, etc.
Treaty no. 8, and adhesions, reports, etc. [Ottawa. 1899]

Other Resource Materials

Treaty 7

Status of Women

Clip: Status of Aboriginal women
Broadcast May 3, 1968
Mrs. Sam Lavallee articulates the breadth of problems women living on reserves must overcome. Life, she explains, is a constant renegotiating of stereotypes, expectations and entitlements.

Treaty 8

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Developing the Lesson
Introduction or Opening Activity

Begin this lesson with a review of the Treaties signed between the Canadian Government and the Aboriginals of Canada. Using a map of Canada, look at the different parts of the country where treaties were signed and reservations created.

Load Map

Purpose of the Lesson

This lesson will look at the strengths and weaknesses of the treaties that were signed by the Canadian government in the late 1880s. A major theme of this lesson will be the guarantees made by the government, and the problems that have developed over the 120 years since these treaties were signed.

"…as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows…"

Should the treaties continue to be guaranteed?
Presentation of New Material

Students will need to research using the Internet, textbooks and encyclopedias. The focus of the research is on the guarantee of the treaties “forever”. Take a look at the problems being faced by the Aboriginals presently having “Treaty Status."

* What are the pros/cons of confining the Aboriginals to the lands as created by the Canadian government?
* What are the pros/cons of guaranteeing no taxes?
* What are the pros/cons of “money for life?”
* Should things change, or should the treaties continue "…as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows…?"

Check for Understanding

Briefly review the government's and the Aboriginals' purposes for signing the treaties. What did each party stand to lose or gain by the process?
Independent Practice

Organize the students into groups of 3-4. Have them use all the materials that are available to them to research the issue question. They should use a graphic organizer to help organize the information they gather. The task is to examine the pros and cons of honoring the existing treaties.

Closing Activity

After the material has been thoroughly researched, the class should present the information in a debate OR essay. The teacher may wish to assign a position to each group and have the group present that side in a debate. Or, the teacher may wish to assign individual essays to be written by the students.

The teacher may wish to have the answers to the webquest turned in for evaluation.

Follow-Up Activities

A look at the Residential Schools issue is the theme of the Peel Lesson Aboriginal Education – A Canadian Failing?

By E.A. Keith and S.J. Whyte