Indigenous treaties are enormously significant for both First Nations groups and Canada. These treaties are constitutionally recognized agreements that lay out the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada, where Yukon is a leader in treaty-making. Out of the 14 Indigenous groups that live in the territory, 11 hold signed treaties with the government.

But there is a disconnect between the generation of leaders who originally negotiated these treaties, and the youth, young people between 16 and 30, who are now taking the reins of governance. These individuals did not grow up under the Indian Act, and were not there to witness the negotiations in person, making it difficult to understand what that process really means.

Our guests for this episode of the podcast are Gabrielle A. Slowey and Geri-Lee Buyck.

Gabrielle A. Slowey is a professor in the Department of Politics the director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, and has worked with Indigenous groups in Yukon to train youth to negotiate and implement treaties. Her new paper, published by the IRPP’s Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation, describes her work with communities to develop a treaty negotiation simulation, where young people can learn from the elders and experts who negotiated the original treaties.

Geri-Lee Buyck is an Indigenous youth from the Na-Cho Nyuk Dun First Nation. Buyck is a first-year student at Vancouver Island University, and took part in one of these simulations.

The Gordon Foundation’s Treaty Simulation is part of its Understanding Our Treaties Initiative (also see: In February 2019, Mapping the Way, Yukon Government and the Implementation Working Group approached The Gordon Foundation to inquire about bringing the Foundation’s treaty simulation program to the Yukon. In the following months, a partnership was formed and The Foundation was invited to organize a Yukon Treaty Simulation in November 2019 in collaboration with Yukon Government, Mapping the Way, the Implementation Working Group and the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University (through Dr. Slowey).

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