Treaty Workshops

Having the authentic information provided by David and Monica in an engaging, age appropriate manner enabled our students to connect their in-class learning to that of real life explanations and situations. Collectively, it has changed our thinking, perceptions, and future actions for the better.
~ Tasha C., educator, grades 6/7, Brantford

Anishnaabe author David D Plain, from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, and filmmaker/designer Monica Virtue, from Woodstock, Ontario, have partnered to bring Treaty Workshops to schools, municipalities, First Nations and other community groups. The workshops feature custom agendas that target both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants of all ages, and fuse traditional oral storytelling with interactive mapping, animations and videos. The two discuss wampum treaties, cession treaties, and the various ways the treaties were broken. The workshops end with the topic of de-colonization, reconciliation and world building.

David’s voice is predominant in the first half of the workshops as he discusses Indigenous spirituality, ceremonies and traditions before leading into canoe routes. While David tells the Anishnaabeg migration story and later struggles with other contending First Nations and colonial powers, Monica maps his story in real-time using Google Earth. David then discusses various wars and the different wampum exchanged to end them, sharing physical items like a replica Two Row wampum and a calumet.

The workshop was such a great opportunity for my students. David’s knowledge and humour helped to make a lot of history fit together and make sense. The visuals and materials helped make his story come alive!
~ Paul C., high school educator, Brantford

Monica uses maps to explain colonization through the land agreements known as cession or “surrender” treaties. She discusses the ways the Department of Indian Affairs broke the treaties, such as through Indian Act surrenders, the Oliver Act, and enfranchisement. Data visualization is used to explain complicated concepts, such as Aboriginal title and the structure of the Department of Indian Affairs. Equal weight is given to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge, with comparisons drawn between world views as told through the Anishnaabe and Western creation stories. Monica often refers back to David’s portion of the workshop to stress how archival research and traditional knowledge can dovetail and support each other.

Treaty of Niagara 1764 wampum.

Each workshop is modified to reflect the territory in which it is held, and David and Monica welcome Indigenous attendees from that territory to share their knowledge to make sure of the correct pronunciation of words and that their understandings dovetail with that of the presenters. Workshops are also age-specific, whether designed for a recent two-day training session for 50 elementary school teachers or a recent two-hour intensive with 70 students from grades six to eight.

My favourite part of the workshop was seeing how our students were able to make the relevant present day connections with the past information.
~ Tasha C., educator, grades 6/7, Brantford

As attendees leave the workshops, David and Monica encourage them to carry the spirit of the original intent of the treaties out into the world with them. One way this is achieved is through an activity that involves the explanation of the word daawed, which is Anishnaabemowin for “reciprocal trade.” While David explains the meaning of daawed, Monica distributes a small bag containing two pieces of candy (such as lollipop) to half of the attendees. After the candy is distributed, Monica asks those who have a surplus of candy to decide if they’d like to keep their surplus for themselves, or if they’d like to share their surplus with those around them. Once the attendees begin opening their candy bags, it is explained that those who are sharing with their neighbours likely hold an Indigenous worldview, while those who hoard their candy for themselves are likely holding a colonized or Western worldview. This activity has an emotional impact on the participants, and they are encouraged to communicate what they have learned on social media so that teachers can track the discussions of their students and the public can learn from those who now have a deeper understanding the the treaties and the meaning behind them.

Who we are

David D Plain

David D Plain is an Indigenous historian/author and gifted speaker from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. One of his books won a Golden Scribe award in 2008, and he was a finalist for an Eric Hoffer Award in 2014. He has published three non-fiction history books and one historical fiction. David also published a poetry book in 2016 as well as co-authored the screenplay for a one-hour TV drama series based on his historical fiction. David holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada.

Monica Virtue

Monica Virtue is a settler from Woodstock, Ontario. During the Ipperwash Inquiry in 2005 she was hired by the law firm representing the Estate of Dudley George to create an educational documentary on the history of the Ipperwash Provincial Park lands. Since then, she has conducted substantial archival research into treaties, the Indian Act and colonization, and has conducted co-designed research using counter-mapping techniques and GIS technology. Monica holds a BA in Communication Studies, a post-graduate certificate in Advanced Television & Film, and most recently graduated from OCAD University in 2016 with a Master of Design in Digital Futures.

Joining forces

While Monica has tapped into David’s knowledge for years regarding her various Ipperwash projects, the two had not collaborated together until this past July when the Aamjiwnaang Heritage & Culture: E’Maawizidijig asked them to present together for “Treaty Day.” Realizing that two brains were better than one, they soon partnered on a two-day training workshop for a local school board. Since then, they have booked longer training workshops with other school boards, and shorter workshops with university, high school and elementary students, and with public libraries.

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Request an estimate

To request a custom-tailored agenda for your region and target audience, along with an estimate for an appropriate length of workshop, please fill out the form below. We will respond within 5 to 7 business days.

Thank you. Miigwech.

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