Treaty caravan touring First Nations across Prairies
Derek Nepinak leads 10-day motorcycle trip to raise awareness of treaty rights
The head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has embarked on a 10-day motorcycle tour of First Nations across the Prairies to raise awareness of treaty rights.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and other aboriginal leaders are on the road as part of the Treaty Freedom Caravan and Ride, which departed from Winnipeg's Lower Fort Garry following a pipe ceremony Thursday morning.
The motorcycle caravan is travelling more than 4,000 kilometres to about 40 First Nations in six traditional territories in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Nepinak and other members of the caravan will talk to people about treaties, the historic agreements signed between the Crown and First Nations in Manitoba starting in 1871, when Treaty 1 was signed at the Lower Fort Garry site.
"These are living documents that still need to be implemented," he told CBC News before the tour began.
Treaties were agreements between First Nations and the Crown to share the land and mutually benefit from resources.
"We were supposed to survive and live and make a good living off the treaty area," said Norman Bone, who lives in the Treaty 2 area in western Manitoba.
Bone, a treaty advocate who is taking part in the caravan, said the treaties have not been upheld by the federal government, and it's up to First Nations people to change that.
"Let's get up and let's change it for the next 100 years, and let's get up and do something about our situation," he said.
As the caravan visits each First Nation, Nepinak will hand out pieces of coal from a treaty fire.
"This is an attempt to burn away a lot of the haze, a lot of the negativity that's kind of shrouded the discussion on treaties," he said.
Each First Nation that is visited will then light a fire on June 21, which is National Aboriginal Day.