NunatuKavut celebrates 1765 treaty that paved way for Labrador settlements

·2 min read
The NunatuKavut Community Council president, governing staff, community members and supporters marked the signing of a 1765 treaty on the weekend. (Submitted by the NunatuKavut community council - image credit)
The NunatuKavut Community Council president, governing staff, community members and supporters marked the signing of a 1765 treaty on the weekend. (Submitted by the NunatuKavut community council - image credit)

NunatuKavut's governing body is hoping to revive interest in a treaty signed more than 250 years ago, one that promised to allow the Inuit to continue to live on their land without threat from European settlers and to trade freely with the British.

Inuit and British officials signed a peace and friendship treaty in 1765, but Amy Hudson, the governance and strategic planning lead of the NunatuKavut Community Council, says there hasn't been much attention paid to the treaty's significance in recent years.

"The treaty is such an important part of Inuit history and my history," Hudson said. "It's an important part of who we are."

The group and members of the community celebrated the anniversary of the signing over the weekend with traditional music, food and drum dancing.

Hudson said the treaty still holds a great deal of significance in Labrador, and was key to shaping the region in the following decades. As the 256th anniversary passes, she said the group is continuing to research the treaty and Inuit involvement in it.

Ensuring the survival of the Inuit

"It was recorded … from a European's perspective. And our history [since] that time has been primarily recorded from a European perspective.… European perspectives do not always privilege or highlight or value Indigenous ways of knowing and being," she said.

"We're really interested in this treaty … to elevate and reclaim and revitalize a really important part of our own history," Hudson added. "[To] really look at the way that Inuit were active agents in ensuring the survival of their people and families so that we can still be here today. We think that's really important work for future generations."

NunatuKavut council president Todd Russell said it's important to keep the story of the treaty and the spirit of the people before them alive for years to come.

"The people that gathered there 256 years ago … these were the grandmothers and grandfathers. The aunts, the uncles, the cousins. And we're descendent from the people that gathered there. We're connected to the people that gathered there," he said.

"The treaty teaches us that agreements can be made. That people can respect our presence, our rights, and how we want to go forward. When the promises were made for a better life for our people 256 years, that promise is still alive today … the treaty is meaningful. It does help guide us."

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