A standard dictionary definition of the word “treaty” will describe it, rather drily, as a formal agreement between two or more states – an instrument of international relations commonly used to make peace, cement alliances, enable commerce, and so on.
For Anishinaabe scholar and activist Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, treaties are gifts which oblige the signatories to accept and value each as equals. Treaties, says Sinclair, are as old as creation and inextricably embedded in the spiritual beliefs and traditions of aboriginal people.
Sinclair is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and a regular commentator on indigenous issues on CTV, CBC, and APTN.
He spoke at a teach-in organized by Idle No More Manitoba on Jan. 28, 2014 at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in downtown Winnipeg.