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June 1, 2020

Covid-19, The Numbered Treaties & the Politics of Life

Authors: Dallas Hunt, Gina Starblanket

Publishers: Inspirit Foundation, Ryerson University, Yellowhead Institute

In many Crown-First Nation treaties and specifically the Numbered Treaties, there is reference to health careprovisions. Referred to as a medicine chest in some cases or aid in others, this provision appears in writtenand oral versions of treaties. Why then, is it absent in the conversations around the COVID-19 pandemic andFirst Nations, when it is needed most? This contemporary moment in Canadian time reveals much about theinterpretation of treaties and how that interpretation (or mal-interpretation) matters in material ways toFirst Nations. In this Yellowhead Special Report, Gina Starblanket and Dallas Hunt consider how healthcare isrepresented in the Numbered Treaty discussions at the time of treaty-making and into the present, illustratingcontrasting visions of our collective relationship and the consequences. But in this study there is also guidancefor the future of that relationship, one rooted in mutual support and a politics of life.