Rare 1877 document — Treaty 7 — to be displayed in Alberta this summer

Southern Albertans will get a chance this summer to see one of the province's most historic documents: Treaty 7, signed by of the Crown and the Indigenous people in a ceremony at Blackfoot Crossing just east of Calgary.

National archives agrees to loan historical document to Fort Calgary

Lee Crowchild, chief of the Tsuut'ina First Nation, says he's pleased the Treaty 7 document is returning to Alberta this summer. (CBC)

Southern Albertans will get a chance this summer to see one of the province's most historic documents. 

Fort Calgary has been granted permission to display Treaty 7, which is currently stored in Ottawa by Library and Archives Canada.

It will arrive in mid-June and be available for public viewing until mid-October.

Fort Calgary requested the document be sent here for display as part of special programming it's planning for Canada's 150th anniversary.

CEO Sara Gruetzner told a city council committee on Thursday that she just received word this week that their request has been approved.

She calls it exciting news.

"Looking at something original makes things real," said Gruetzner. "I think having the actual document will really put a focus on the discussions that we need to have."

Treaty dates back to 1877

Treaty 7 was signed by representatives of the Crown and the Indigenous people of what is now southern Alberta in a ceremony at Blackfoot Crossing, just east of Calgary, in 1877.

Gruetzner said even if the legal language of the day might be indecipherable to many, what the document represents is part of Alberta's and Canada's story.

"Canada's history is a lot about the colonization story. It's a story of opportunity but it's also a story of loss and the actual document really sets the stage for those conversations."

She said Fort Calgary has been consulting with representatives of the Treaty 7 nations about the plan.

Treaty has 'deep meaning,' says Tsuut'ina chief

In a statement, the chief of the Tsuut'ina Nation — a first nation which signed the treaty — says he's pleased the document is returning to Alberta this summer.

"This will create an opportunity to reflect on a treaty that guarantees our sovereign status, and gives us control over the air, water and land that has deep meaning for us," said Lee Crowchild.

"We hope that as Calgarians reflect on the 150th anniversary of Canada's founding, this document will allow them to call to mind the sacrifices that were made, and are still being made by First Nations people across Canada."  

City councillor Gian-Carlo Carra said he's blown away that Fort Calgary's request has been granted and the historic treaty will be displayed there.

"It's not where Treaty 7 was signed but a lot of the deliberations and a lot of the planning and a lot of the first contact took place at that historic confluence," said Carra.

Treaty needs care and attention

To arrange the loan of the treaty, Fort Calgary had to commit to the national archives that the document would be displayed in a secure and controlled environment.

The archives requires proper lighting and humidity control to prevent the treaty from being damaged.

Gruetzner said details on the displaying of the treaty will be announced in the coming weeks.