3rd National Treaty Simulation
Promoting youth engagement with treaties is an essential element of the BC Treaty Commission’s mandate to support public education about modern treaties and reconciliation. The leadership and contributions of young emerging leaders are crucial to the success of negotiating, ratifying, and implementing modern treaties. Intergenerational knowledge transfer through exposure and engagement with the treaty making process is an invaluable asset and prepares the next generation of leaders who will advance self-determination and self-government in their communities.
The third national treaty simulation took place online from March 9th – 12th and was organized by the Gordon Foundation, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, and the BC Treaty Commission. 16 young Indigenous leaders ages 18-29 from British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan had the opportunity to work together with treaty expert advisors as they learned about the process of treaty negotiations through an interactive simulation experience.
After a one-day preparation session, participants were engaged in four days of hands-on learning through negotiation and implementation simulations. Youth were reorganized into different teams for each simulation to ensure all participants had an opportunity to experience treaty making from the perspectives of different governments (Indigenous, territorial and federal).
Expert advisors included Frank Dragon, Negotiator for the Ka:’yu:’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h First Nations Financial Fiscal Agreement, Maa-nulth Final Agreement; Robin Bradasch, Association Vice President, Indigenous Engagement and Partnerships, Yukon University; and John B. Zoe, Negotiator, Tłįchǫ Agreement. The advisors guided the participants and shared their own experiences of negotiating and implementing treaties.
Hands on experience provided through treaty simulation is one of the best ways to engage young leaders in the important work of treaty making. The young leaders had the unique opportunity of experiencing the realities and challenges that come with negotiating a treaty virtually during a global pandemic. Despite these added obstacles, participants were able to successfully negotiate a treaty agreement and implementation framework.
This year the treaty simulation focused on education jurisdiction. The participants prioritized Indigenous language and culture revitalization. Many participants remarked that the simulation increased their understanding of treaties, negotiations and the CRT Calls to Action, furthered interests in further involvement and potential career opportunities, supported skills development, and created a network of connections with other young leaders and advisors.
Interested in learning more about treaties and the negotiation experience? Visit the Understanding Our Treaties website, launched collaboratively by the Gordon Foundation, BC Treaty Commission, the Land Claims Agreement Coalition and other partners.
Listen to this CBC interview which explores the experience from one of the youth participants.
Across Canada, there are 70 historic treaties, signed between 1701 and 1923, and 25 modern treaties and self-government agreements, signed since 1973. Eight* modern treaties, two self-government agreements, and 15 historic treaties are located in British Columbia.
Refer to the Indigenous Rights Recognition in BC: Collection of Key Policies, Laws and Standards to see the key foundational documents of Indigenous rights recognition in British Columbia.
* The Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement is being individually implemented by independent governments of the five Maa-nulth First Nations.