Christians are being called to reflect on their connection between Canadian and Christian identities.

August 3, 2021, marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1. While many other treaties, or agreements, were made between Indigenous people and Europeans who settled in Canada, this was the first of 11 numbered treaties made with the new government in Canada.

This large event took place over the course of several days at Lower Fort Garry with Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation, Long Plain First Nation, Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation, Sagkeeng First Nation, and later in 1876 included Sandy Bay First Nation and Swan Lake First Nation. 

Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Grand Beach, and Winkler are some of the communities that share Treaty 1's obligations and benefits today.

Jimmy Thunder of Reconciliation Thunder says the huge event "set the stage" for relations to come, including Christian relations.

"We need to think about how does our understanding of our Christian identity play into our understanding of our Canadian identity," Thunder says. "Part of it is just recognizing that as Canadian citizens you know what are the values that we have for today, how do we be good Canadian citizens, and part of that is just looking at what the scriptures say."

He looks at the spiritual identity Christians are called to take up, and how that relates to the values of being Canadian citizens.

Thunder says when the Indian Act was signed a short while later, this new act completely contradicted the mutual agreements of the treaties. He says Christians need to look at history honestly, carefully, and from a place of love.

"We need to figure out how can we be peacemakers, how can we know the good that we ought to do, and how can we restore this relationship. And I think that's how as Christians we should reflect on days like today."

Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere says 'Manitobans remain committed to working with Indigenous partners in the same spirit of friendship and collaboration in which Treaty No. 1 was signed" in a Tuesday morning statement.

The minister says this day is during a "particularly challenging period for everyone" as graves are uncovered at residential schools across Canada, saying "we grieve alongside Indigenous communities" and offering his commitment to supporting Indigenous-led investigations and commemorations at residential school sites.



With files from Mike Thom