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.

Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice Kicks Off with “absolutely great” session

On July 16, over 150 people attended an inaugural webinar organized by the Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice (CoP). It featured Veselin Jungic sharing his experiences collaborating with First Nations communities across British Columbia and Alberta to create an innovative, community-based program to engage First Nations children and youth in studying mathematics.

Who is Veselin Jungic?

Dr. Jungic, a mathematics professor from Simon Fraser University, is a 3M National Teaching Fellow and a recipient of several teaching awards including the Canadian Mathematical Society Teaching Award and the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences Educational Award.

What is Math Catchers?

Beginning in 2011, Math Catchers is a program to interest Indigenous elementary and high school students in studying mathematics. Adopting Indigenous ways of knowing, Math Catchers uses storytelling, puzzles, pictures and a variety of hands-on activities to make math relevant and fun. Characters like Small Number and Big Circle are featured in a series of stories showcasing how math is everywhere, a vital part of everyday life.

What was the response to Dr. Jungic’s presentation?

This quote, taken directly from the session chat captures the feeling in the room. “Your presentation was very moving. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your heart and passion for this is clear.” Dr. Jungic’s passion for mathematics, his students and his role as an educator was inspiring and motivates us all to consider what more we can do to become Indigenous allies.

Key take-aways

Be patient! Veselin reminded us that when he started, he was “just another white man asking for something.” He advised us to take the time to build trusting relationships and understand the needs of the Indigenous communities we hope to work with.

Veselin also talked about how his work with First Nations peoples has made him a better teacher, more attuned to students and how their stories frame their learning.

What is the Indigenization in STEM Community of Practice?

Established just this year, the STEM Indigenization CoP aims to create a vehicle for sharing ideas of how to Indigenize courses, decolonize teaching practices, promote two-eyed seeing and engage meaningfully and respectfully with Indigenous communities.

What’s next?

The group will be hosting more sessions and hope to share helpful resources. If you have an idea for a speaker whose experience would benefit the group, just let any of the organizers know. They are:

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: Two-Eyed Seeing

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

“Two-Eyed Seeing” by Cheryl Bartlett, Murdena Marshall, and Albert Marshall* reports on a program developed at the University of Cape Breton to increase Indigenous enrollment in science. The article describes and reflects on a learning process that could be used to move post-secondary programs toward a recognition of the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing and those of “mainstream (Western) science.” One key challenge the authors identify is finding the humility to acknowledge the circumstantial relevance of different ways of knowing. Ensuring that the process respects distinct knowledge communities requires institutional participation by Indigenous elders to validate the path taken.

Participants in the reading circle were divided about the value of the “two-eyed seeing” framework. On the one hand, some regarded it as a conciliatory position that dodges more radical concerns about the violence of colonial ways of knowing. Some forms of academic knowledge are not benign ‘eyes to see by’ but reflect practices of dominance. Interpreting the framework closer to its intended STEM field of application, other participants could see two-eyed seeing as a promising generative framework. The co-learning journey described showed a process whereby new knowledge “tools” could be incorporated into a sovereign cultural setting.

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: Two-Eyed Seeing”

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: Academic Gatekeepers

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

In “Academic Gatekeepers,” Devon Abbott Mihesuah (pronounced “My-he-sue-ah”) examines the various ways in which academic knowledge production is subject to white settler norms and values that hinder the advancement and success of Indigenous scholars and teachers.

The conversation began by noting the broad context of academic gatekeeping on the University of Waterloo campus: the recent ranking of Indigenous visibility for the University of Waterloo, the importance of indigenous participation in high levels of the administration, and the inclusion of inclusivity and diversity in the 2020–2025 strategic plan. Participants wrestled with the challenges of including Indigenous academics, discussing peer review and merit as an objective façade, the lack of Indigenous voices in various fields, and how academia and academic culture is structured to exclude people.

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Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

At the October 4, 2019, session of our Indigenization Reading Circle, we asked what we can learn about universities by shifting our focus toward the experience of Indigenous students as they attend universities in Canada (or the United States). In “First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility,” Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt argue that the underrepresentation of Indigenous students in universities and their comparably lower completion rates reflect the systemic tension between universities and the lives of Indigenous peoples. The authors’ programme for reforming universities is built around ‘The Four R’s’.

Showing respect for Indigenous students will require an examination of what kinds of knowledge count. Ensuring universities are relevant to Indigenous communities will necessitate ongoing conversations around how education fits into their life-worlds. For the relationships within universities to be reciprocal, the roles of teachers and learners must be reconsidered. As with other transformations in inter-nation relationships (governance, public welfare and justice, resource management), sharing control of universities with Indigenous communities is key to Indigenous communities being responsible participants.

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility””

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Decolonization is not a Metaphor”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

During the June meeting of the Reading Circle, we considered how land acknowledgements make visible the Indigenous peoples of a region and their histories. The performance of a land acknowledgment expresses a commitment to a reconciled future that is prosperous for settlers and Indigenous peoples. But does reconciliation accept settler colonialism?

In our July article, “Decolonization is not a metaphor” (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society Vol.1 No.1 2012 pp.1-40), Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang attempt to show that when educators work to ‘decolonize’ thinking, teaching, and universities, they treat decolonization as a metaphor and jeopardize solidarity with Indigenous struggles against settler colonialism. The authors do not argue for decolonization. They show that respect for that framework requires that we refuse to absorb it into other anti-oppression projects.

Continue reading “Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Decolonization is not a Metaphor””

Indigenization Reading Circle Notebook: “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement”

The FAUW Indigenization Reading Circle meets monthly to discuss readings relating to Indigenization and reconciliation in the university context.

Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Waterloo are familiar with acknowledgements of the Indigenous peoples who have been the traditional or treaty inhabitants–Neutral/Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee—of the territory on which the University lies. Community members across campus gathered on June 27 as part of the FAUW Indigenization reading circle to discuss “Rethinking the Practice and Performance of Indigenous Land Acknowledgement”, Canadian Theatre Review, vol. 177, Winter 2019, pp.20-30.

The document is an edited transcript of a plenary discussion at the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (May 2018). The contributors were a mix of Indigenous, arrivant, and settler commentators.

Together the statements exhibit the realities of impersonal and passive territorial acknowledgements whose performance re-enacts colonialism and the potential for such statements to disturb settlers’ confidence by highlighting what they do not know about Indigenous ways of being, expressed in their language, relation to land, and their kinship ties. Other interventions offered examples of just relations in covenants of shared stewardship arrived at by the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples (e.g. ‘The Dish with One Spoon‘), and Indigenous protocols for visiting the territories of other peoples.

Many in the reading circle were uncomfortable with delivering the institutionally approved territorial acknowledgement. Some found it tokenistic, others felt uncomfortable because of their self-declared ignorance. The discussion turned to whether formulaic territorial acknowledgements are important as accessible starting points. A commitment to improve the performance of the statement could include paying greater attention to the pronunciation of names and further elaborating on historical details. Others in the circle suggested that the performance could be made more genuine by adding prefatory or concluding comments to the statement. 

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Assigning students research on social movements and marginalized groups

From an extractive to a relational approach: Craig Fortier shares tips for instructors in all disciplines assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups or social movement organizations.


For over a decade, I checked the email for No One Is Illegal-Toronto, the migrant justice activist group with whom I organized. Almost daily, we would receive messages from students (mostly university, but sometimes high school or college) asking to conduct an interview. Or perhaps for basic information about the organization that could be found on our website. Or even a master’s or PhD student who wanted to “study” our movement for their dissertation. In fact, many of our individual organizers who were publicly recognizable figures received personal emails of the same nature—some at a rate two or three times that of the group email account!

At first, we would try to conduct as many interviews as possible. Our logic was: The more people who know about this issue, the more people who will join our movements and mobilize. But it quickly became clear that many of the students (and, if we are being honest, most of the professors who were telling students to come speak with us) were seeing the activity as a learning exercise for themselves and not as a means of connecting and building tangible (and reciprocal) relationships with social movements.

They also didn’t seem to understand the nature or the structure of community-based organizing. And, it wasn’t just No One Is Illegal. Talk to any active social movement group (from Black Lives Matter to the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) and they will tell you the same thing: They are inundated with requests from students and teachers for information. At the time I was organizing, No One Is Illegal made the decision to develop a clear and proactive policy around research. The experience of developing that internal policy shaped and guided my own academic work and assignments as I entered the academy.

I’m now an assistant professor of Social Development Studies at Renison University College and I teach courses that are directly related to the study of social movements. It’s now my turn to try to put the principles developed in organizing spaces into practice in the academy—to ensure that we aren’t burning out campus organizers like the Indigenous Students Association, RAISE, UW Base, WPIRG, the UW Women’s Centre, etc. who are mobilizing to bring about the world we wish to see. This is the world that I teach about in my classes, but it is a world that is only actualized through on-the-ground mobilizing.

Where you come in

While this post is specifically about my experience teaching courses on social movements, I think that there are a lot of lessons that can be taken from them for professors assigning projects directed towards the study of marginalized groups, whether it is a mining engineering assignment that takes into account Indigenous peoples as stakeholders, a biology course on the health determinants in a migrant community health centre, an accounting course studying the social and environmental impacts of a particular innovation in business or any other discipline where you are relying partly on information from marginalized communities.

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Take-aways from the 2018 CAUT Aboriginal Academic Staff Conference

Karen Sunabacka is an Associate Professor of Music at Conrad Grebel University College. This past October, FAUW sponsored her to attend the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Aboriginal Academic Staff Conference.

The 2018 conference theme was “Advancing Indigenization,” and plenary topics included: new Indigenous scholars, advancing Indigenous academic staff, Indigenizing the academy, Indigenous knowledge, and the state of Indigenous Studies programs in Canada.

After the conference, Karen sat down with FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group to share her reflections on the conference. She was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us to share with members of our broader community.

What were your expectations or hopes going into the conference?

As a Métis scholar and musician, I was hoping to meet other Indigenous academic staff and hear how Indigenization was going at other institutions in Canada.

What was your biggest take-away?

Indigenization means different things to different groups of people. I was surprised to learn about the differences between the ways University administrations tend to think of Indigenization and the ways individual faculty and/or faculty groups are approaching Indigenization. Faculty are looking at ways to incorporate Indigenous Knowledge into the curriculum, they are thinking about incorporating Indigenization into different ways of teaching, and they are looking at organizational structures and how to differently arrange the University structure as a whole (some talk about this as “Decolonizing” the University). Whereas Administrations tend to think of Indigenization as simply having more diversity of faculty, staff, and students.

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An opportunity to support the Wet’suwet’en people

A message from FAUW’s Indigenization Working Group:

In recent weeks, hundreds of scholars from around the world have signed on to an open letter expressing support for BC’s Wet’suwet’en people and calling on the Canadian Government and the RCMP to cease pipeline work on Unist’ot’en Territory. Read the letter here. If you so choose, you can add your voice as a scholar.

Note: the Indigenization Working Group is an ad hoc committee of FAUW. Its support of the open letter should not be construed as FAUW’s position. Visit our website to learn more about the working group and about Indigenization at Waterloo.