As long as the rivers flow.

Treaty No. 1 signed 145 years ago today.

The vision of a thriving community is not a new one.

At United Way Winnipeg, we recognize that our work and the work of our partners take place on the traditional territory of Treaty No. 1, as well as on the homeland of the Métis Nation. The name “Winnipeg” itself is derived from the Cree word that describes our cloudy water.

What does it mean to be a part of Treaty No. 1?

Around the time of Confederation, Canada recognized that western Indigenous groups were Nations unto themselves and their title to the land had to be addressed before opening the land up to settlement.

Treaty No. 1 was signed 145 years ago on August 3, 1871, between Canada and the Anishinabek and Swampy Cree of southern Manitoba. Negotiations began on July 27, 1871 when representatives from Canada and a thousand Indigenous attendees camped at the Stone Fort that we now call Lower Fort Garry.

Conference with First Nations Chiefs during Manitoba-First Nations Treaty, 1871. Source: Glenbow Archives

Conference with First Nations Chiefs during Manitoba-First Nations Treaty, 1871. Source: Glenbow Archives

Treaties are mutual agreements between nations and they cover land use, governance and resources. The Treaties made in this land were reaffirmed and upheld in Canada’s Constitution in the early 1980s.

These contracts gave rights and obligations to both parties. Original benefits to settlers were to advance settlement across the prairie region. Today, every Winnipegger possesses treaty rights that determine their relationship to this territory. They allow Canadians the right to sell and purchase property, to farm, or to otherwise benefit from the natural resources of this land.

“to last as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and yonder river flows.” – Alexander Morris, the first Treaty Commissioner

“to last as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and yonder river flows.” – Alexander Morris, the first Treaty Commissioner.

Because there are treaties still in place, everyone who lives here is a treaty person.

Treaty 1 also tells us about the kind of vision each party had for their future generations. The agreements and the ceremonies surrounding their creation were intended to foster an atmosphere of understanding, dignity and mutual respect, factors that will also be part of reconciliation so our country can become stronger and more inclusive.

145 years later, what some consider seven generations, Treaty 1 is being commemorated at Lower Fort Garry. You can learn more about the numbered treaties from the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.

Jeffrey M. Thomas, The Delegate, Portage and Main, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2005. C-print on paper. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2008-116. Photo: Ernest Mayer

Jeffrey M. Thomas, The Delegate, Portage and Main, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2005. C-print on paper. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2008-116. Photo: Ernest Mayer

Reflecting on perception & race

‘Cultural Competency’ is part of United Way Learning Centre offerings, among many classes and courses designed to build knowledge and skills in Winnipeg’s nonprofit sector.


The following personal take comes from a recent ‘Cultural Competency’ workshop participant.


When we let race inform our perception and behaviour we limit ourselves – our opportunities and our ability to see the truth. Countering this phenomenon requires conscious effort – and organizations can foster it.

This message from Jackie Hogue, owner of J. Hogue & Associates, was the prelude to a Strengthening Organizational Cultural Competency workshop she recently facilitated at United Way.

“Biases come up in life, to us all. That’s why it’s important to be reflective…there is so much value in our diversity, and we can get there and be enriched by the differences,” says Jackie.

For an activity called Mainstream Margin participants split into groups and brainstorm words and images that explain how it felt to be marginalized in their life, and what they thought those doing the marginalizing may have felt.

For an activity called Mainstream Margin participants split into groups and brainstorm words and images that explain how it felt to be marginalized in their life, and what they thought those doing the marginalizing may have felt.

We all have culture, and most of it is not the obvious things like food, art and clothing. Things like expected behaviour, concepts of time, values and beliefs are often hidden and intangible. Increasing awareness and the capacity to engage in an organization requires conscious effort – listening and learning, and understanding that our own perception is not a truth shared by others, and not necessarily even true.

Reflection. Perception. Dialogue. These three things, Jackie tells us, form the basis of transformation in organizations and individuals.

Individuals, and organizations, can make changes to avoid marginalizing people.

Individuals, and organizations, can make changes to avoid marginalizing people.

Authentic relationships require willingness. A willingness to be challenged; to not be in a place of denial and resistance; to be on a journey of growth, learning, and change; and to recognize our own privilege and perspectives.

“We need to always be reflecting on self, society, and historical context.”

During the day-long workshop, filled with interactive group activities and discussion, Jackie deftly led us through the concepts of reflection, perception and dialogue. Working towards cultural competency – and getting closer to understanding racial differences and how we interact with them – is not easy work, but it’s immensely doable.

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Jackie provides a wealth of information to help organizations (the workshop is for anyone, but many participants were non-profit service providers) include cultural competency in their governance, service delivery, community relations, personnel practices and organizational culture.

Once an organization begins to focus on becoming culturally competent the journey begins.

Jackie Hogue, front right, with her Strengthening Organizational Cultural Competency workshop participants.

Jackie Hogue, front right, with her Strengthening Organizational Cultural Competency workshop participants.

“It’s an ongoing process. You don’t arrive at it; it’s a process of learning. It’s impossible to know it all. Cultural competency is more about the skills and the practices to engage in a good way and to recognize when and how our bias shows up.”

And knowing we can always learn.


If you are interested in joining a Cultural Competency workshop keep an eye on United Way’s Learning Centre webpage or email Linda Brazier Lamoureux, director of learning and innovation, at lbrazier@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca.