Earlier this year, I got to attend the National Treaty Simulation in Ottawa for the first time. I found it a great introduction for learning about modern treaties if you’re looking for a place to begin or continue learning about them. What got me really excited about it was a Land Claims Agreements Coalition video by the 2023 youth attendees.

I had the chance to sit with other youth and experience what it was like to come to a consensus on a treaty, participating as a fictional First Nation, Provincial Government, and the Canadian Government. It was daunting, jumping into something I wasn’t familiar with. In the end I was grateful for the experience, I feel like I learned more about treaties during those two days than I ever have in my life. It’s brought a new understanding and pointed me in the right direction for researching and learning more about treaty signing and implementation.

Writing this as the Special Projects Liaison for the nation I work for, I see this as a great opportunity for the years to come, continuously getting youth involved in this Treaty Simulation – getting a hands-on experience with negotiating and learning about treaty implementation – as this is and will be a constant thing going on within my nation. I also see it as a great networking experience, connecting with First Nations people throughout the country and hearing their experiences, culture, and teachings – while also getting the chance to share yours.

In my personal experience, my knowledge of treaties has been limited, it’s hard to say where that stems from – it could be a plethora of things, schooling, upbringing, etc. Regardless, I feel a deeper understanding of what a treaty means to First Nations people and the future and the hard work that goes into negotiating, signing, and the constant work of implementing treaties into First Nation communities. I recognize that many roles play a part in this, one of them being the whole reason behind my role and why I have this opportunity to work for a First Nation – to help with implementation amongst their youth.

This simulation is a great place to learn about Indigenous politics and to see what leaders do to make change within communities and government. Teaching valuable protocols, what kind of questions to ask at the table, and acknowledging where you come from.

My one recommendation would be to extend the amount of time to get ready for the Treaty Simulation itself. Otherwise, it was a good experience.

Tliniihaksupas – Kae-Lynn Johnson comes from Tseshaht First Nation, while also having family ties to Huu-ay-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Vancouver Island, BC.

The sixth National Treaty Simulation took place in Ottawa in February 2024 in partnership with the Land Claims Agreements Coalition