Celebrating the Anniversary of our 1752 Treaty of Friendship and Peace
Treaty Day, held annually on October 1st, marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia, as proclaimed in 1993 by then Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy.
The purpose of Treaty Day is to promote public awareness about the Mi’kmaw culture and heritage for all Nova Scotians.
In 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the validity of the Treaty of 1752, signed between “Jean Baptiste Cope, Chief Sachem of the Tribe of Mick Mack Indians, Inhabiting the Eastern Coast of Said Province,” and Peregrine Thomas Hopson, Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia – in its ruling of the court case, James Matthew Simon v. the Queen. This ruling not only validated our Aboriginal Treaty rights, but also confirmed the unique relationship which exists between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown, an agreement which is further maintained within the Covenant Chain, a series of interconnected treaties of mutual consent.
In 1986, Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq nation, Donald Marshall Sr., invited all Mi’kmaw to “observe October 1, 1986, and every year thereafter as Treaty Day to commemorate the unique and special relationship that exists between the Mi’kmaq and her Majesty.” Since then, the Union of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq, with the involvement of other reputable Mi’kmaq organizations and associations, has spearheaded the organizing of activities for the celebration of October 1st – Treaty Day.
Treaty Day festivities must first and foremost reflect the beliefs of the Mi’kmaq people with respect to the obligations of our Treaty Rights – an aspiration only possible through the careful planning of various events and activities. Throughout the festivities, the Nova Scotia population must become more aware of the Mi’kmaq Nation and our history, which will only enrich their own cultural and historical knowledge of the Mi’kmaq, but will also enable the Mi’kmaq Nation to be recognized in a manner of which they are deserving.
When the English arrived in Mi’kma’ki, the Mi’kmaq and the Crown signed treaties of peace and friendship so they could live in harmony and peace. Mi’kma’ki is the Mi’kmaq homeland that includes present-day Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, central and eastern New Brunswick, the Gaspe Peninsula and Newfoundland.
The 1752 Treaty showed the Crown’s intentions to make peace, provide trading posts, and protect the land and way of life for the Mi’kmaw people. The Treaty also designated October 1st as the date on which the Mi’kmaw people would receive gifts from the Crown to “renew their friendship and submissions.”
The Treaty of 1752 designated October 1st as the date on which the Mi’kmaw people would receive gifts from the Crown to “renew their friendship and submissions.”
In 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the Treaty of 1752 was still strong and in 1986, October 1st was officially proclaimed as Treaty Day to commemorate the unique relationship between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown.
By celebrating Treaty Day we are giving thanks to the Mi’kmaw and the Crown for signing treaties of peace and friendship.
People continue to gather in Halifax on October 1st to enjoy various events in celebration of Treaty Day. It’s a reunion for many Mi’kmaq and a time for non-Aboriginals to learn a part of Nova Scotia’s 13,000-year-old history.
It’s a time for government officials and Mi’kmaw leaders to meet and exchange gifts to observe the day.