Broken Promises

Broken Promises

Big Ideas

  • Land was never ceded or surrendered
  • Promises were made to share the land with the newcomers and allow them to live on Anishinaabeg territories in turn for financial compensation (e.g., rent)
  • In many places these were to be conditional agreements
  • Lands and waters were stolen through many different ways
  • Doctrine of Discovery was used to justify theft of land and to create Canada
  • Maps were redrawn to erase Indigenous peoples and nations even though they still exist today
  • Moving forward requires everyone working together and re-envisioning new maps, land sharing based on financial compensation and the return of lands

Let’s Explore:

1. Watch the following video:

2. Engage in discussion using the following inquiry prompts:

Dan Pine Jr begins by sharing some examples of how land was taken illegally and either not compensated for at all or by an insulting amount of flour to the community.  He also shares about the importance of knowing the truth about how these were crooked deals.

How is exposing the truth important for creating change?

The government and other individuals have been able to take land illegally with no accountability.  How can this be changed?

Quinn Meawasige speaks about the clash of worldviews.

What does he mean by this?

How does this relate to Chi-Naaknigewin?

How could the government expect the Anishinaabeg to surrender their lands if the concept of ownership was not possible?  How did this lead to the government changing its approach to obtaining lands?  Why has there been no accountability on the illegal theft of lands?

Indigenous people never relinquished their rights to manage their lands. How does Canada continue to prevent this? Why?

George Peequaquat spoke about how his Grandfather would not sign any treaty.

Why did he not want to sign?

An agreement was to allow people to live in the territory provided they paid rent.  Why would the Crown nor Canada live up to this agreement?

George speaks about how difficult it was even using translators when considering treaty signing.  Why might the government choose to not include what the Anishinaabeg said?

How is having the treaties written only in English a problem?

How does omitting the Anishinaabeg version of the treaty agreements help to enable the theft of lands?

Isaac Murdoch speaks about stealing land through the redrawing of maps.

What maps do you learn about in school about this land?

Why do we only see Canada, the provinces, cities, towns and not the other Indigenous nations such as the Anishinabek Nation that still exist here today?

What other Indigenous nations have been erased off the map?

Why would the education system today continue to not show the other nations?

Why would Indigenous people not be included in the Treaty of Ghent?

If the border between what is now Canada and the United States was never agreed to by the Anishinaabeg (or other Indigenous nations), and it was created on their territory without their consent, why should they be forced to follow this same border? How can this be corrected?

What won’t the Church or the government rescind the Doctrine of Discovery if it has allowed for the theft of lands and slavery of people? Why is this a Call to Action (#46) of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

What other Papal Bulls have been used in the same way?

Let’s Explore:

  1. Read the document: For as long as the Sun Shines and the Grass Grows…by Isaac Murdoch
  2. Engage in discussion using the following suggested prompts:
  • How does this resonate with the video “Broken Promises
  • How does hearing from those directly impacted by the government better inform our understanding of Indigenous-Crown relations?
  • How can we use this new information to advocate for justice?


The following terms and individuals were mentioned in the videos shared during this learning module.  You are encouraged to further explore their meaning and their impacts.

Indian Agent


Queen Victoria


Doctrine of Discovery

Treaty of Ghent

Additional Videos for Further Learning

The following slide deck is available for teachers to use: