Common menu bar links

Transcript for Sharing Our Histories: The Keeseekowenin Ojibway

[Parks Canada opening video sequence. Beaver logo and agency website.]

[A montage of beautiful RMNP. Natural scenics with flora, fauna, wildlife. Large vistas meld with the smallest detail of nature]

[Narrator]

Deep within the natural beauty of Riding Mountain National Park, there is history untold. Before boundaries ... ... before there was a park ... ... even before European settlers arrived ... ... there were people here for thousands of years.

[Rachel Bone, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

Our ancestors lived here and that's what seems to bring me here. Because of something spiritual here.

[Dissolve to animated title: 'Sharing Our Histories: The Keeseekoowenin Ojibway]

[Beauty shots of Riding Mountain National Park - a balance of natural splendor, modest commerce and tourism.]

[Narrator]

Riding Mountain is a natural preserve where a National Park was created by the Government of Canada in 1929. The Park is a model for the world because of the balance it has established between protected ecosystems and the people who visit them. There has been however, a serious error that is only now being addressed. A piece of the Park's history, indeed the very foundation upon which it is built, has been neglected and ignored.

[Transition to early morning mist rising off the lake. Then dissolve into re-enactment with Aboriginal people around the fire.]

[Narrator]

Long ago, the Aboriginal people known as the Riding Mountain Ojibway, lived throughout this area ... ... thriving for generations.

[George Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

I would say that we were a very organized type of people ... a self-sufficient people that was before the time of the discovery. Not only men, but women worked hard as well too.

[Rachel Bone, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

I guess everything was here, all the animals, and berries and medicines, this is where they were, right here, and they survived good.

[George Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

People were, were made aware of how we should respect what we had, the moose, the elk, the deer and also the fishing.

[Rachel Bone, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

They respected everything, anything that gave them life, like water, food, everything was spiritual to them ... because the Creator made it.

[Articles of a Treaty graphic]

[Narrator]

By 1871, the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation signed Treaty Number 2 with the Crown. And they continued their traditional lifestyle at Indian Reserve 61A on Clear Lake's north shore.

[Archives of early life on the original 61A Reserve inter-cut with natural beauty]

[Mervin Swain, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

Well, it was a loving kind of community. Everybody helped each other. If other families and their family brought in an animal, like a moose or elk, they all went in and helped prepare everything.

[Myrtle Bone, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

Take the meat home and dry it, and help each other drying the meat

[Doug Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

It gives me a lot of memories when I come here and think about my people.

[George Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

It was a fishing station because wherever the reserve was located, there had to be a fishing station. When the, the white people first came to, to the community here. They gained a lot of knowledge from the aboriginal people, like the way of survival and how to work in a, in a region like this.

[Harriet Hodges, Local Resident]

Well, our family was very good friends with the natives. In the summertime there would be natives coming from all over for powwows and fishing and it was a very active place at times.

[Narrator]

But this life changed when the Government of Canada set aside this part of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway territory as a natural preserve and a National Park.

[Dwayne Blackbird, Treaty 2 Consultant]

When I talked to my Dad, he said the people were all happy here and you know, it was that way until the late 1920s when they started these discussions on turning Riding Mountain National Park into a park ...

[George Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

... the next thing you know our people were being pushed away from here ...

[Mervin Swain, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

They were told to get out of their reserve because this ... the park was going to own this ...

[Harriet Hodges, Local Resident]

We knew the people had been taken off the reserve but... no we didn't know that they were going to burn the houses until we were sitting out on the doorstep one night and saw the smoke ...

[Doug Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

They burned the houses. They burned the barns. There was one family had his horses burned right in the barn.

[Harriet Hodges, Local Resident]

Well all we saw was fires. There was a bunch of the wardens ... I shouldn't say a bunch I don't know how many there was...maybe two or three wardens burning them ...

[Doug Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

Dad was hurt pretty bad when they had to move out of here because this is where they started, eh? They had a good life here ...

[Narrator]

The displaced residents were re-Iocated twenty miles west at one their settlements near Elphinstone.

[Greg Fenton, Superintendent, Riding Mountain National Park]

Not a nice time in history for Parks Canada and certainly for the Federal Govemment ... There was a 60-year hiatus where First Nations Communities including Keesee were totally alienated from what was a part, a very important part of their traditional territory.

[Mark Young, First Nations Liason Officer, RMNPC]

There was a disconnect from the land and the whole idea of protected areas was totally devoid of any sort of First Nations world view.

[Archival images mixed with natural beauty shots of the Park. Aerial shot of area.]

[Narrator]

It was a situation that had to change. Over three decades, successive Chiefs and Councils of the Keeseekoowewin Ojibway First Nation, fought for and eventually reclaimed their traditional territory inside Riding Mountain National Park.

[Greg Fenton, Superintendent, Riding Mountain National Park]

As a result of a desire by both parties, facilitated by changes in government policy and land claim processes,

we've been able to start the road to reconciliation.

[Narrator]

This new relationship enables First Nations to now have a role in the Park. Parks Canada can pursue its objectives and goals while relying on the knowledge and wisdom of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation.

[Mark Young, First Nations Liason Officer, RMNPC]

People don't know that the actual ecological integrity of the national park, prior to its establishment, really involved the First Nations. They were part of the ecosystem. They maintained a balance.

[Greg Fenton, Superintendent, Riding Mountain National Park]

This area is a part of the traditional territory and they have an awful lot of knowledge and understanding about the resources, both natural and cultural.

[Narrator]

This shared vision between First Nations and Parks Canada is creating a new future for the region. In this spirit, a sharing lodge has been established in Wasagaming by the Keeseekoowewin Ojibway First Nation.

[Greg Fenton, Superintendent, Riding Mountain National Park]

This is a perfect opportunity to hear and leam about First Nations culture and history.

[Myrtle Bone, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

I think it's good for the younger generation, for the younger people to leam about their culture.

[Mark Young, First Nations Liason Officer, RMNPC]

Finally we're having some First Nations that are beginning to tell their own story.

[George Blackbird, Keeseekoowenin Elder]

I think it's one of the greatest things a person can do is get together and talk about the past.

[Narrator]

Through dialogue and cooperation, the lessons of the past will never be forgotten. Now, the complete history and age-old wisdom of this area's ecology can be preserved and shared with future generations.

[Credits:]

Credits

[Parks Canada logo.]

[© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2013.]

[Canada wordmark.]

Parks Canada closing video sequence. Parks Canada logo. Copyright. Canada wordmark.

Return to video