Marking the 236th anniversary of the Haldimand Treaty

October 25 marks the 236th anniversary of the Haldimand Proclamation (1784). This treaty promised land to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River in recognition of their service to the British Crown and the loss of their land in the American Revolutionary War. By 1798, non-Six Nations settlers moved onto the Haldimand Tract, violating the treaty after only fourteen years.

The University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses) are located on the Haldimand Tract, which extends ten kilometers on either side of the Grand River. In addition to the Haudenosaunee, the land on which the University of Waterloo is situated is on the traditional territories of the Anishnaabeg and the Neutral peoples. Diseases brought by settlers swept through the Neutral people, and survivors have hence been adopted into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. These are pieces of information you likely know, at least insofar as you have heard about them in the University’s land acknowledgement.

To mark the anniversary of the Haldimand Treaty, Members of the Faculty Association’s Indigenization Working Group want to share some of the resources they have found helpful.

A deeper dive into the history of the Haldimand Tract

Broad historical overviews can be an important first step in learning about the Haldimand Tract. We recommend Susan M. Hill’s The Clay We Are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River(2017) as a starting point. Hill provides a historical examination of the Six Nations of the Grand River, beginning with their creation stories. The book introduces readers to the various treaties, including the Haldimand Proclamation, which apply to this land. And good news—an e-book version is available through the University of Waterloo Library.

We also recommend the resources on the Six Nations of the Grand River website. In particular, the booklet Land Rights: A Global Solution for the Six Nations of the Grand River(2015) provides an accessible overview of the Haldimand Tract, violations of the treaty, and recommendations for government action. This booklet helps frame ongoing legal cases between Six Nations and provincial and federal governments.

Current actions on the Haldimand Tract

There are several ongoing land actions on the Haldimand Tract that relate explicitly or implicitly to the Haldimand Treaty and land dispossession.

Local to Kitchener-Waterloo is O:se Kenhionhata:tie, a land back camp. The camp was set up in Victoria Park the day before National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and stayed there until October 21, when it moved to Waterloo Park. This camp is for Indigenous people living in this area, not only for the Haudenosaunee or members of Six Nations. However, because Victoria and Waterloo Parks are on the Haldimand Tract, the Haldimand Treaty relates specifically to their concerns around land dispossession. One demand being made by the camp to the City of Kitchener and the City of Waterloo is for fees to be waived for Indigenous use of the parks.

O:se Kenhionhata:tie serves as a site of cultural connection for Indigenous people, especially for two-spirit and queer youth. In an interview with Midtown Radio, organizer Amy Smoke also discusses how the location of the camp, in the back of Victoria Park, was chosen because that part of the park has been a site of violence for queer people and black and brown people. The camp hosts a number of projects, including a community garden, a tipii mural, and land-based education.

On October 19, the City of Kitchener approved a motion that, among other things, created a position for a Senior Indigenous Advisor and other staff persons dedicated to anti-racism (in line with recommendations from the land back camp). The camp is now calling on the City of Waterloo to do something similar. You can support the O:se Kenhionhata:tie by contacting your elected representatives to support their demands and by signing their petition. You can also contribute financially to their work.   

In another part of the Haldimand Tract, outside of Caledonia, Haudenosaunee have been occupying the site of the McKenzie Meadows housing development (Foxgate Corporation), for the past two months. They have named their camp 1492 Land Back Lane and have faced state and police violence for their action. Karl Dockstader, a journalist who is Indigenous, was arrested and prohibited from returning to the site.

According to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the site of this development is deemed critical for consultation with the Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy website also provides resources for understanding Haudenosaunee land dispossession and ongoing legal claims, both related to the Haldimand Tract and extending beyond it. To learn more about the 1492 Land Back Lane action specifically, view the virtual teach-in hosted by the Windsor Law School’s Shkwabewisag Student Law Society, with speakers Dr. Bev Jacobs and Dr. Pam Palmater.

Continuing to learn and taking action

This post has focused on the Haldimand Tract because this is the land on which our University community is centered. But we also encourage people to learn more about the Peacekeepers defending Indigenous fishing rights in Mi’kmaq territory in Nova Scotia as lobster fishers are currently facing violence for exercising their fishing rights from settler lobster fishers.

The University of Waterloo states that acknowledgement without action can be an empty gesture. Acknowledging the past without acting ignores ongoing forces of colonization that structure Canadian life. If you are a settler, taking responsibility for educating yourself about colonialism and Indigenous rights is one form of action. But it is just a beginning. This interview with organizers from the O:se Kenhionhata:tie Land Back Camp provides some other ideas about how you can take action in solidarity with Indigenous land back actions.

How have you marked the 236th anniversary of the Haldimand Proclamation? Did you share information about the Haldimand Tract with students or colleagues? Did you focus on self-education? Did you take concrete action? Get in touch and share your stories.


This post is by the FAUW Indigenization Working Group, a member-driven initiative that aims to help faculty members better understand and take action on Indigenization and reconciliation efforts.

Thanks to Rob Reid from Engineering for inspiring this post. Rob is hosting an online chat next week for anyone who wants to discuss how faculty members can support Indigenous communities in this time. Come share what you have been talking about and planning in your own circles, ideas for what faculty members can and have capacity to do, and ways to coordinate and support each other. Join Rob Thursday, October 29, 4:00 pm EDT, at meet.jit.si/uWaterlooIsStolenLand.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.