Honouring Treaty 4 in Melville
Melville SK, 1:00PM Thursday
We rolled through increasingly flat and open land, with Bert proclaiming that the absence of mountains was making this Shuswap feel just a little too out in the open. Ten people from Fort Qu’Appelle and Melville met the train on the platform; the youngest was Addison (9 months old and an appreciator of large, noisy trains) and the oldest Mildred, one of the elders of the Intercultural Grandmothers group of the Fort Qu’Appelle area. The Grandmothers have worked for 20 years or more on the question of right relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, believing that as women and grandmothers they should seek out what they have in common and break down stereotypes.
Staff from the Calling Lakes Centre of the United Church offered a beautiful banner honouring Treaty 4 peoples and lands; in the original spirit of the treaties, these covenants applied to all who signed them, their people, and their descendants. Within this understanding, then, all Canadians are treaty people – or potentially so in the case of areas where treaties do not exist—and the peace, coexistence and friendship model they embody places rights and responsibilities on all of us—not just on Indigenous peoples. Calling Lakes Centre has been hosting talking circles and other programs that offer space for Aboriginal people to do their own community work, and for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to sit in sacred circle and hear one another.
KAIROS Fort Qu’Appelle also offered an amazing Treaty 4 banner on behalf of its member churches. This KAIROS group is among the oldest in the country at thirty-plus years, and for many years its members have been deeply involved in Indigenous rights and right relationships work. Seeing elders Hazel and Gordon Jardine at the station was a great pleasure, as they have long been at the core of this KAIROS Community.
We had only a very short time together, as the train was trying to make up lost time. We couldn’t enjoy the lunch laid out to share, and we had to say our goodbyes hanging out the window of the train (something the ever-gracious staff have quickly gotten used to). As we have said so often on this trip: thank you to Fort Qu’Appelle and Melville for your care, your support, and your voice that the banners will carry.