EUC Seminar Series examines treaty relations in Toronto

Still image from By These Presents: "Purchasing" Toronto (Talking Treaties 2019)

This year, York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) Seminar Series is focusing on Assistant Professor Martha Stiegman’s knowledge translation project Polishing the Chain, which leverages research by the Indigenous-led Talking Treaties community arts project of Jumblies Theatre and Arts to enrich public discussion of treaty relations Toronto.

Toronto is the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabeg and Haudenosaunee Confederacies. It is also one of the most culturally diverse cities on Earth. There is a web of historical treaties that were negotiated on these lands – agreements that hold continued relevance and possibility for the present.

Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto is a fall and winter conversation series that will bring together Indigenous and allied scholars, knowledge holders, artists, Earth workers and activists who will explore the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the treaties Indigenous nations in southern Ontario have made with each other, with the land and with the Crown. It will explore: the spirit and intent of Toronto treaties; the ways Indigenous Peoples have upheld and continue to uphold them; the extent to which they are (and are not) reflected in contemporary Indigenous and state relations; and the treaty responsibilities of both settler and Indigenous Torontonians.

Headshot of Alan Coribere
Alan Coribere

The series’ inaugural talk, “The Symbolic Language of Wampum Diplomacy,” will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 28, just prior to Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30. The event, co-presented with the Toronto Biennial of Art, will feature Anishinaabe historian and York University Assistant Professor Alan Corbiere, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous History of North America; Tuscarora writer, historian and curator Rick Hill; and interdisciplinary Kanienkehaka artist Ange Loft.

The series will continue with “Taking Care of the Dish: Treaties, Indigenous Law and Environmental Justice” on Oct. 26; “Treaty Relations, Planning and Indigenous Consultation at the City of Toronto” on Nov. 23; “The Forgotten Promise of the Treaty of Niagara” on Jan. 31; “The Toronto ‘Purchase’ ” on Feb. 14; and “We are all Treaty People” on March 14.

All Fall 2021 seminars will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. via Zoom and live-streamed on the Polishing the Chain Facebook page. To register, visit

This year’s EUC Seminar Series is co-presented by York’s new Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages, the Indigenous Environmental Justice Project, and the Jumblies Theatre and Arts Talking Treaties project. For more information about the seminar series, email