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‘We’re still here’: Dene mark 100 years of the first Treaty 11 signing in Citadel Providence, N.W.T.

‘We’re still here’: Dene mark 100 years of the first Treaty 11 signing in Citadel Providence, N.W.T.

Deh Gáh Bought’îê First Nation Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge mentioned elders maintain told him Dene possess now not maintain noteworthy to celebrate in phrases of the 100th anniversary of Treaty 11, but he feels otherwise.

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Men pound the drums and play Dene hand games at the 100-365 days commemoration of Treaty 11 in Citadel Providence, N.W.T. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

Since time immemorial, Dene would dance and sing on the banks of the Mackenzie River approach what is now Citadel Providence, N.W.T. 

Dozens made the point to pick out on these traditions on Sunday, on land they unknowingly surrendered 100 years ahead of.

On June 24, 1921, a treaty social gathering came to the dwelling with the intention of convincing the Dene to stamp Treaty 11, the remaining of Canada’s numbered treaties. The finish in Citadel Providence was the first of eight that summer season, as the social gathering travelled down the Mackenzie River. 

A photo from the original Treaty signing in Citadel Providence. (NWT Archives )

The treaty covers 950,000 square kilometres of the western N.W.T. from Citadel Providence to the Arctic Ocean, and includes corners of Yukon and Nunavut. 

‘That’s when everything modified’

The Crown’s interest in the dwelling skyrocketed in 1920, after oil was found in Citadel Norman, now Tulita, N.W.T. 

At that first treaty signing in Citadel Providence, the Dene elected Paul Lefoin, a professional hunter, to talk to the treaty social gathering on their behalf. Lefoin refused to even touch the signing pencil for three days till Commissioner Henry Conroy promised to admire their hunting, fishing and trapping rights. 

The original wording of Treaty 11, signed in Citadel Providence on July 27, 1921. (NWT Archives )

The Dene were convinced they had signed on to a treaty of peace and friendship — but that’s now not how things turned out. 

“[The ancestors] big subject was, of course, the land, the atmosphere,” according to Joachim Bonnetrouge, chief of Deh Gáh Bought’îê First Nation. “They were fascinated about the adjustments that would possibly well reach, and definite ample, it was factual.” 

Joachim Bonnetrouge, chief of Deh Gáh Bought’îê First Nation, says there’s still so a lot of work to attain for his folk to are living a lifestyles extra free from the restrictions of Treaty 11. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

The Treaty forced the Dene to “cede, free up, quit, and yield” all of their land rights to the Dominion of Canada. It also empowered the Crown to manage their rights to fishing, hunting and trapping — despite telling them otherwise. 

Elder Johnny Farcy’s grandfather, Harry Francis, was one of three original signatories of the Treaty. 

Farcy remembers the signing as a turning point for his household. 

Elder Johnny Farcy’s grandfather Harry Francis was one of three signatories of Treaty 11. He remembers it as a turning point for his household. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

“That’s when everything modified,” Farcy told CBC. 

“All americans moved to Citadel Providence, so they left the bush lifestyles, and all the kids began going to highschool.” 

The treaty also installed a main and council machine on the Dene folk, Bonnetrouge continued. 

“We saved being told the Queen and Canada wanted us to develop into faithful Canadians,” Bonnetrouge mentioned. 

“Even to at the demonstrate time, it be still discomforting to gather that kind of message because of this of … this would possibly maintain an set on who you are going to well be and what you attain.” 

‘There’s no turning attend’ 

Or now not it is this kind of history that Dene creator Karalyn Menicoche wants to bring to the kids of Deh Gáh Bought’îê. 

Her father, Chief Bonnetrouge, requested Menicoche to put up one of her college essays detailing the relationship of the Dene to Treaty 11 for the entrance page of a commemorative newspaper. 

Karalyn Menicoche looks to be like out to the Mackenzie River in Citadel Providence, N.W.T. She wrote an article researching the Dene’s relationship to Treaty 11, so kids would possibly well additionally study her folk’s demanding history with the doc. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

Subsequent to the article is a drawing of the three ancestors who signed their treaty. 

“Treaty 11 is a historic time for the Dene folk, and it has grown into our tradition in a profound approach that there is never any turning attend,” Menicoche writes in her fragment. 

Menicoche mentioned she wrote it for all the kids in her neighborhood that possess now not know the history. She wants to educate them, she continued, because of this of of the profound finish it has had on their folk. 

“There’s obligations that ought to be met and known,” she mentioned. “We desire folk to be accountable for what had passed off that day, and the after effects.”   

‘If you’re Canadian, you’re fragment of the treaty’ 

Leaders from across the N.W.T. are reflecting on the lasting legacy of the Treaty as fragment of commemorations this weekend. 

Deneze Nakehk’o travelled to Citadel Providence from Yellowknife, N.W.T., to attend. His household signed on to the treaty in Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́, shut to Citadel Simpson, all those years ago. 

Deneze Nakehk’o’sfamily signed on to the treaty in Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́, shut to Citadel Simpson, all those years ago. (Submitted by Deneze Nakehk’o)

The 100-365 days anniversary is well-known for all Canadians, Nakehk’o mentioned. 

“If you’re Canadian, you’re fragment of the treaty,” Nakehk’o mentioned. “And love each and every deal, each and every aspects maintain their possess duty to meet. 

“Or now not it is up to them to connect that duty of their possess, to examine up on to study and realize.” 

Treaty 11 also informed original treaty negotiations across the territory. Three main land claims were signed by the Sahtu, Gwich’in and Tłı̨chǫ in the mid-90s to early 2000s as a option to connect attend some control over their lands. 

Negotiations for the original treaty settlement for Nakehk’o’s folk in Łı́ı́dlı̨́ı̨́ Kų́ę́, in addition to in Providence, were going on for the remaining 22 years

‘We’re still here’ 

Bonnetrouge mentioned he struggled to determine find out how to commemorate this passing of time, whether the anniversary was extra of a commemoration or a social gathering. 

Native elders told him they didn’t maintain noteworthy to celebrate, but he has a distinct viewpoint.

“We still maintain so noteworthy in our lives at the present time,” he mentioned. “Respect at our blooming river, the land, the tradition. [It’s] still very sturdy.” 

The Treaty Birthday celebration docked here 100 years ago, on the banks of the Mackenzie River. (Anna Desmarais/CBC )

A century later, Bonnetrouge mentioned there’s still so a lot of “laborious work” left to attain so his folk can are living a freer lifestyles. 

Section of that work, he continued, is reminding Canada and the rest of the world about the resiliency of the Dene folk. 

“We’re still here — in spite of all the now not-in reality enjoyable things that passed off to us.” 

‘We’re still here’: Dene mark 100 years of the first Treaty 11 signing in Citadel Providence, N.W.T.