Lesson Plan: Treaties
By: Paul Wiper, with contributions from Charlene Camillo
A graduate from Western University (B.Ed, 2006), Paul Wiper teaches History and Law in the Thames Valley District School Board, in London, Ontario. Paul first began engaging with the history of Indigenous veterans when a mentor introduced him to the story of Francis Peghamagabow as a young Infantry Officer in the Canadian Forces Army Reserves (2001-2012).
As an Afghanistan veteran, he brought his military experience to the classroom and has been grateful to continue to learn from and collaborate with Indigenous colleagues in developing recognition for Indigenous veterans in schools during veterans week and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Paul has also been involved in local writing projects to help implement curriculum revisions aimed at fulfilling the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In his classroom approach, Paul tries to engage students’ sense of justice in examining the history of this country in an honest way.
Charlene Camillo is from the Moose Cree First Nation and of Italian heritage. She is a teacher and coach in the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB).
From 2016-2022, Charlene was the Learning Coordinator in TVDSB for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education. In this role, she led professional learning for staff and helped to develop various opportunities for Indigenous students. She also created lesson plans and resources for use in classrooms, and shared best practices in bringing Indigenous content into schools.
Charlene taught multiple subjects from 2010-2016 at Saunders Secondary School in London, ON. In 2022, she returned to Saunders and has been teaching History and Indigenous Studies while coaching Girls Basketball and Girls Hockey, and supporting the Indigenous Student Association.
Charlene has been fortunate to work with multiple First Nations as a teacher and a coach. She continues to take feedback and learning from Indigenous students and families to provide opportunities for staff and students to enhance their knowledge of Indigenous experiences.
Recommended Grade Level
This lesson and activity can take place in one or two 60-75 minute periods.
- Printed copies of handout – Treaties Backgrounder and Treaty 9, and
- Computer, projector, and speakers to play film excerpts in slideshow.
- Expand knowledge of treaty relationship and Indigenous resistance,
- Explore how government policies and legislation, as well as the attitudes that underpinned them, affected First Nations individuals and communities, and
- Background to examining numbered treaties, prelude to land claims, modern treaties and resistance.
Note: A Google Slides version of the slideshow is available here with all speaker notes.
Treaties Backgrounder Handout
Treaty 9 Handout
- Welcome students and complete any opening routines you usually do as a class.
- Have the slideshow ready to go on a computer and projector.
- Distribute the Handout – Treaties Backgrounder.
- Ask the students to complete the Handout as you introduce Canada’s treaty relationship with First Nations in slides 1-13 of the slideshow.
- Introduce Treaty 9: Complete the handout comparing the text of Treaty 9 to George McMartin’s diary and Rosary Spence’s oral history. View slides 14 – 19, including the video.
- Watch the following NFB Film Trick or Treaty excerpts and consider whether the Government was bargaining in good faith (operating with a sincere intention to be fair, open, honest, regardless of the outcome):
- When students are considering what’s left out of the negotiations, the video does a good job of bringing up points like the nature of the relationship established by the treaty in terms of land, by emphasizing the use of cede, surrender, and give up, all terminology included in the written agreement but left out of the oral negotiations. Students may notice that there is no mention of the policies of the Indian Act or residential schools. Some may be astute to point out that the effect of the government eventually taking so much territory that they used to be able to hunt and fish on, for other uses, would impact people’s ability to sustain themselves, to feed themselves and their families. Later, that imposed poverty was used as a rationale to force Indigenous children into residential schools.
- Ask the students to answer the reflection question (independently, with a neighbour, in small groups—whatever works best for your group): was the government bargaining in good faith?
- Revisit the concept of Treaty Days by discussing why people continue to collect annuity payments. Raise questions about whether not increasing payments over time is meeting the spirit of the original treaty agreements. Try to engage student empathy and recognition of the payments as symbolically important to the treaty relationship for some, and varied views of Indigenous Peoples.
- Continue slides 23-28 to emphasize barriers to land claims and role of oral history in future cases.