Saskatchewan became the first province in Canada to mark Treaty boundaries along major provincial highways.
In September 2022, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan (OTC) unveiled the official road signs to honour the Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 boundary on Highway 11. The day began with a pipe ceremony, followed by an unveiling event and feast celebrating the signs and the collaborative work between the Government of Saskatchewan and OTC. The government envisions these signs will enhance knowledge and awareness about First Nation Treaties within our province and create an opportunity for conversation and knowledge-sharing among Saskatchewan residents.
"It is common sense for the provincial and federal governments to acknowledge the Treaty boundaries and their important history," Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson said. "This first sign acknowledging the Treaty 4 and 6 boundaries is paid for by the province. It is going to spark dialogue and lead to policy changes. It is education!"
The signs were installed between Davidson and Bladworth on Highway 11, one of the province's most travelled roads on the National highway system, with more than 5,000 vehicles daily.
The signs declare to those heading south that they are entering Treaty 4 territory and to those heading north that they are entering Treaty 6 territory. In addition, the signs have greetings in traditional languages specific to that Treaty area being entered, including Anishinaabe, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota and Cree.
The signs make the province the first in Canada to mark Treaty boundaries along a major highway and are another step toward reconciliation and acknowledging Treaty territories.
"I am grateful to the Office of the Treaty Commissioner and the Government of Saskatchewan for working together to mark Treaty boundaries along our province's major highways officially," Saskatchewan's Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty stated. "It is an important recognition of our Treaties."
Each new sign includes the following:
- An image of a Treaty medal specific to that Treaty territory. The medals were provided to the First Nation leadership following the close of the Treaty negotiations.
- “As long as the sun shines, grass grows and rivers flow.” This phrase is an essential symbol of the spirit and intent of the Treaties.
- “Welcome” in the respective First Nation languages of each Treaty area.
The signs were manufactured by a local company SAGE Roadways, a division of JNE Welding in Saskatoon. This has special significance as Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and English River First Nation are majority owners within the division.
“The Government of Saskatchewan is proud to play a role in being the first Canadian province to mark Treaty boundaries along a major provincial highway,” Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Don McMorris said. “The treaty boundary signage, in partnership with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, complements Treaty education in our province to continue towards meaningful and lasting reconciliation efforts in Saskatchewan.”
Additional signage for Treaty boundaries located along the National Highway System in Saskatchewan is earmarked for this year.