There is a truth about the Winnipeg Free Press that has, for far too long, not been fully and properly reconciled on the pages of our newspaper.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/8/2017 (1579 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Editorial

There is a truth about the Winnipeg Free Press that has, for far too long, not been fully and properly reconciled on the pages of our newspaper.

When our first edition rolled off of a press in a rented shack at 555 Main St. on Nov. 30, 1872, what was then the Manitoba Free Press was publishing on territory designated in Treaty 1, which was signed one year earlier. That link between the Free Press and the first treaty signed after Canadian Confederation is a fact about the oldest newspaper in Western Canada that cannot be denied.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A replica of a Treaty Medal No. 1 on display at the Manitoba Museum. It commemorates the Treaty negotiated at Lower Fort Garry in 1871. </p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A replica of a Treaty Medal No. 1 on display at the Manitoba Museum. It commemorates the Treaty negotiated at Lower Fort Garry in 1871.

And yet, that is a truth that the Free Press and those who have shared in the benefits of Treaty 1 have seldom acknowledged, let alone celebrated. So let us recognize the facts of this first treaty, signed 146 years ago today at the Stone Fort we now all know as Lower Fort Garry.

That first treaty, signed on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, was a promise to the peoples who were the first to live on these lands after the melting of the glaciers and who then helped ensure the survival of those of European descent who wanted to make this land their home, too.

That first treaty, signed amid the smoke of a pipe ceremony and the presentation of medals, formalized a relationship that not only ensured peace in the Red River Valley, but also reflected long-term, respectful relationships between First Nations and settler communities established during 100 years of the fur trade.

At the time of this first treaty, the future city of Winnipeg was a place where Cree and Anishinaabe, Dakota, Métis, French and English, Catholics and Protestants not only shared the land, but established the sort of openhearted, multi-faith, multilingual, multi-cultural community to which we still aspire.

And that first treaty laid the foundation for the Manitoba of today, a province that would be a better place for all if the ties that bind and the binding obligations were acknowledged and respected.

As Canada marks its 150th year of Confederation and the Free Press celebrates its 145th year of publication, this first treaty can no longer be consigned to the past.

Instead, this first treaty needs to be part of our present and a guide to our future together.

Canada and Manitoba cannot be a country and province where those who were here first are denied the promises that are part of our shared history and an embodiment of our collective aspiration. Manitoba and Winnipeg cannot be a places where we are quick to enjoy the holiday that is Louis Riel Day, but slow to respect the homeland of the Métis and their place in our past, present and future.

And the Free Press cannot be a newspaper that doesn’t use its power to help build understanding of the facts of this first treaty, its ongoing obligations and the path toward reconciliation that begins with recognition.

The editorial page is the voice of the newspaper and our mission is to use that voice to articulate views and express opinions that will serve this community.

For our first 145 years, that voice has not always spoken as loudly and as clearly as it could about the peoples who were first here and their lasting contributions to the city and province we all share.

Today, we are acknowledging that past and moving forward in the spirit of that first treaty that created a permanent and lasting relationship.

The signing of that first treaty was something celebrated by those on this land, not denied. To celebrate it anew — by taking steps to recognize the strength of that covenant today and tomorrow — is an appropriate way to mark the 146th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 1.

In that spirit of commemoration, we will mark this historic month by declaring on this page, to all who come to hear our voice, the truth that the Winnipeg Free Press has been published since 1872 on Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Métis.