Treaties Recognition Week 2021: Recommended Watching and Reading

November 2, 2021 | Jamie

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Treaties Recognition Week is the first week of November every year. 

Most of Canada is under treaty for shared use with Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous communities. Treaties help demonstrate "ongoing rights and obligations" for all who live in Canada

Canada has two types of treaties with Indigenous communities, called historic and modern treaties. Historic treaties occurred between 1701 and 1923, and modern treaties began in 1973.

We've gathered together some resources available not just at the library but also outside of the library to learn more about treaties and why they are important.

Please note that if a resource is by an Indigenous person, their nation is in brackets next to their name. Descriptions of these documentaries and books are based on descriptions from the creators.



All Ages

Treaty Words : For As Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimée Craft

Treaty Words: For As Long As The Rivers Flow written by Aimée Craft (Métis and Anishinaabeg), illustrated by Luke Swinson (Anishinaabeg and Mississauga)

"The first treaty that was made was between the earth and the sky. It was an agreement to work together. We build all of our treaties on that original treaty. On the banks of the river that have been Mishomis’s home his whole life, he teaches his granddaughter to listen—to hear both the sounds and the silences, and so to learn her place in Creation. Most importantly, he teaches her about treaties—the bonds of reciprocity and renewal that endure for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow. Accompanied by beautiful illustrations by Luke Swinson and an author’s note at the end, Aimée Craft affirms the importance of understanding an Indigenous perspective on treaties in this evocative book that is essential for readers of all ages."


Treaty Baby

Treaty Baby by Sara General (Mohawk), illustrated by Alyssa M. General (Mohawk)

"Writing and illustrating books for children, Spirit & Intent expresses a perspective of Mohawk young women. Treaty Baby features simple, one line sentences about a female and male toddler. On the book's cover, readers see the pair holding an important wampum belt representing the Evergrowing Tree of Peace. Each two-page spread tells young readers about treaties and their significance to Indigenous people. This understanding begins at birth and extends throughout life. We learn why treaties are important to our children and they are told why we honour them. Learning begins with stories because babies love stories. Treaty babies enjoy hunting and fishing, they love the sunrise, love the waters and the thunders, they love to pick berries and give thanks. This all leads to knowing our rights. The stylized illustrations capture the essence of Haudenosaunee design and symbols. The Treaty babies resemble cornhusk dolls but are drawn with eyes but no complete facial expressions. The overall feeling of the book acknowledges the way the Haudenosaunee give thanks. These subtle touches bring a unique understanding to young children about the essential nature of treaties to Indigenous people." (Description from

Alex Shares His Wampum Belt by Kelly Crawford

Alex Shares His Wampum Belt written by Kelly Crawford (Anishinaabe), illustrated by Donald Chrétien (Nishnaabeg)

"Kelly Crawford wrote this information book about a First Nation student named Alex and his inspiration to create a wampum belt from his Lego blocks. The boy explains that treaty belts are made from wampum and they represent promises made to last. The wampum belt Alex made symbolizes the Treaty of Niagara agreement. Real wampum beads are made from white and purple shells. The colours also have meaning and the designs are used to tell the history of the belt's creation. The promises mean that First Nations agreed to share the land and they have rights as Nations. The treaty is a living promise that means all people are Treaty People. This is an important information resource for elementary students and has a page of suggested activities for teachers." (description from

Dakota Talks About Treaties by Kelly Crawford

Dakota Talks About Treaties by Kelly Crawford (Anishinaabe), illustrated by Donald Chrétien (Nishnaabeg)

"Told from Dakota's perspective the book begins as Dakota gives a speech to her classmates. She recounts her family's trip to a celebration of the Treaty of Niagara in Niagara Falls. This is where Dakota saw wampum belts and heard speeches about the history of this treaty. She also explained to her class that the treaties are living agreements and sacred promises. The final page provides a few suggestions for teachers who explain to students that we are all treaty people. Simple sentences, colour illustrations and large font make this an excellent student resource about treaties and wampum for primary and junior level readers."


From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation : A Road Map for All Canadians by Greg Poelzer and Ken S. Coates

From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for all Canadians by Greg Poelzer and Ken S. Coates

"Canada is a country founded on relationships and treaties between Indigenous people and newcomers. Although recent court cases have strengthened Aboriginal rights, the cooperative spirit of the treaties is being lost as Canadians engage in endless arguments about First Nations "issues." Greg Poelzer and Ken Coates breathe new life into these debates by looking at approaches that have failed and succeeded in the past and offering all Canadians--from policy makers to concerned citizens--realistic steps forward. The road ahead is clear: if all Canadians take up their responsibilities as treaty peoples, Canada will become a leader among treaty nations."



Trick or Treaty directed by Alanis Obomsawin

Trick or Treaty? by Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki) and Annette Clarke


You can check out more items in our collection and more


Online Programs 

Check out these previously aired online programs that talk about treaties on Crowdcast:

Talking Treaties Banner

Talking Treaties in Tkaronto

"Reflecting on treatymaking and upkeep in what is now known as Toronto, through the lens of three main agreements: the Dish with One Spoon; the Covenant Chain and 1764 Treaty of Niagara; and the ‘Toronto Purchase’ with the Mississaugas of the Credit. Narratives of Nation-to-Nation gift giving, kin building, resource sharing, and the role of oral memory are supported by excerpts from the 2016 Talking Treaties Audio Gallery and the 2019 film “By These Presents: ‘Purchasing’ Toronto”. Glimpses of the multi-year community engaged process reveal the capacity of arts-based learning in fostering personalised and active approaches to treaty knowledge."

June 8 A Dish with One Spoon Reconsidered

Naagan ge bezhig emkwaan / A Dish with One Spoon Reconsidered

Long before Europeans arrived, the Anishinaabe occupied territory which includes parts of present-day Ontario, Michigan and Ohio. The resources found there are integral to their way of life and identity. The Anishinaabe defended this territory, and its integrity was at the core of the peace they concluded in Montreal in 1701, a key element of which was the Naagan ge bezhig, or Dish with One spoon. Recently, however, the Dish with One Spoon has been popularized as an agreement to protect the environment. Researchers Victor Lytwn and Dean Jacobs provide a history and overview of the Dish with One Spoon from an Anishinaabe perspective while explaining how its incorporation into "land recognition statements" is damaging to First Nations who seek to protect their territories and resources.


Blog Posts 

You can also read other blog posts that talk about treaties.

Remembering the Toronto Purchase and its Settlement: June 8: Snapshots in History

A blog post by a librarian sharing information within our library about the Toronto Purchase.

Treaties Recognition Week 2020: Recommended Watching and Reading

A blog post by a librarian sharing information within our library about treaties.

Wampum: Not Museum Artifacts but Original Treaties!

A blog post by a librarian learning about wampum and its significance with making treaties.

We Are All Treaty People

A blog post by a librarian about how everyone who lives in Canada is a treaty person. This blog post also shares resources available to learn more about treaties at Toronto Public Library.


Outside of the Library

Want to learn more about treaties outside of the library? Here are some things you can do to learn more: 

Register for a virtual event with the Government of Ontario's Treaties Recognition Week! Events include Treaties and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action with Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, and Treaties, Environment and Land: A funny story of sustainability with ONE bowl, ONE spoon and a whole lot of POPCORN! with Rabbit and Bear Paws.

You can also watch some videos gathered by the Government of Ontario featuring Maurice Switzer, Ange Loft, Margaret Froh, Bentley Cheechoo and more!

Check out recordings from this year's Truth and Reconciliation Education Week!

We recommend checking out the following sessions, as well as all of the other sessions that ran on September 28. They are all available to watch on YouTube:

We also recommend checking out Whose Land and Native Land, which are two websites that show traditional territory boundaries and where treaties are not just in Canada, but in some other countries as well.