Day 1 – Empire, Settler Colonialism, and Colonial Sciences

For Keynote Talk abstracts for Day 1 please see here

“So Long as the World Exists”

Maurice Switzer, Bnesi, is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville, one of seven Anishinabek First Nations whose territories were impacted by the 1923 Williams Treaties. Maurice is an adjunct professor at Huntington University and University of Sudbury, teaching courses on the impacts of media representation on Indigenous peoples. He lives in North Bay, where he operates Nimkii Communications, a public education practice with a focus on the Treaty Relationship. Maurice served as director of communications for the Assembly of First Nations and Union of Ontario Indians and, in June of 2016, he accepted an appointment to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

When Sir William Johnson proposed a treaty to over 2,000 Chiefs gathered at Fort Niagara in July of 1764, he repeated the terms of the previous year’s Royal Proclamation, which recognized that “the Indian tribes of North America” were nations who held title to their traditional territories. He pledged that, if they agreed to share the use of their lands around the Great Lakes, their English allies would ensure they would never be poor “so long as the world exists.” In sacred ceremonies, Johnson repeated the Royal Proclamation’s guarantee of a huge reserve of Indian Territory in the centre of North America, and assured the assembled leaders that settler governments would not interfere with their traditional way of life.

Less than a century later, Indigenous Peoples found themselves outnumbered by newcomers who had begun a relentless process of dispossessing them of lands and waters that had sustained them since time immemorial. The 150 years of history being celebrated by Canadian citizens this summer coincide with a period in which their governments have assaulted the cultures, social structures, and habitats of First Peoples.


“Prosecute All Murders and Robberys Against them: The Forgotten Treaty Promise”

Catherine Murton Stoehr

Forgotten promises have no life. Eurocentric histories of British North America imply that North America was a side “theatre” of European wars, rather than the site of a massive foreign invasion prosecuted over the course of 250 years. This distorted lens has resulted in Canadian histories that profoundly misinterpret many critical moments of our past. This presentation will assert that for First Nations – from the Lenape on the east coast to the Odawa in the Great Lakes region – land protection, which is the focus of Eurocentric histories, was only one of three goals, along with trade, and personal security. The promises of personal security that the Indigenous negotiators secured from the British at Niagara, that the British would “prosecute all murders and robbery’s against them” have been forgotten and cannot come to life again until they are remembered. This paper is an act of remembering that promise.