We Are All Treaty People

Statement from Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan Mary Culbertson on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

  • Published - 08/09/2022
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  • Posted By - OTC
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The Office of the Treaty Commissioner recognizes the passing of Queen Elizabeth II today. We offer condolences to the Royal family and those around the world who held the Queen close.

As the head of the Crown, Queen Elizabeth II represented the Treaty relationship her grandmother Queen Victoria directed her officers to create. This was to be a direct relationship between First Nations and the Crown through Treaty.

Indigenous peoples have long had a complex relationship with the Crown. It was the monarchy that colonized what is now known as Canada, but it was also the crown that negotiated Treaties with Indigenous Nations. Those Treaties promised that the Crown would honour Treaty rights and Indigenous ways of life would be protected. We know this did not happen.

Queen Elizabeth II commemorated Treaties 6 and 7 on their centenaries by holding a reception at Buckingham Palace.

In 1987 I met the Queen during a cross-country Royal Visit when she, with Prince Philip, made a stop in Veregin, Saskatchewan. I was struck by her strength and dignity.

For the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada in 2021, the Queen sent a statement saying she joined with Canadians “to reflect on the painful history that Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools in Canada, and on the work that remains to heal and to continue to build an inclusive society.”

In March this year, Queen Elizabeth met with the first Indigenous Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon, hosting her for tea at Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II listened during visits to Canada about Treaties not being honoured, and recognized the destructive role colonization played in Canada. Today on the passing of the longest reigning monarch as she reached the Platinum Jubilee year we honour the Crowns role in the Treaty relationship, and look to the next monarch, King Charles to do the work towards Treaty understanding and implementation, reconciliation of the genocide that colonization created and nation-to-nation relations.

Yours in service,
Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson

*Image of the 1976 visit to Buckingham Palace from the Royal Collection Trust