ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG: Treaty Theatre Presents . . .

February 22, 2003
ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG: Treaty Theatre Presents . . .
By Lauren Nancarrow Clarke

"If you sign the Treaty, We will be your friend,
Long as the rivers run, Sure as the dawn breaks,
We will treat you fairly, Friend to friend!"

These promises from the governments of Canada began a depiction of Canada's
relationship with Aboriginal nations by CPT delegates February 1. The
musical piece highlighted the obligation of the Crown and the governments of
Canada and Ontario to uphold Treaty #3, an agreement guaranteeing both
non-native and native communities a share of land and resources.

Delegates created this theatre in response to a week of learning about the
issues behind a blockade of logging vehicles at Asubpeeschoseewagong in
Grassy Narrows, Ontario.

The CPT group moved around this logging town as a caravan from the hockey
arena, to the Ministry of Natural Resources building, to the office of the
Minister of Indian Affairs, Robert Nault, and finally to the Kenora Mall.

"It is hard to imagine that just doing this simple act of freedom of speech
feels so foreign," stated one delegate, Robert Regier (Carleton, SK). The
faces of many spectators seemed to mirror his reaction: shock mingled with
curiosity mingled with amusement.

The group dressed in oversized crowns, ties with loud maple leafs, and
trilliums to symbolize the federal and provincial governments. Their initial
promises quickly gave way to the desire by these governments for more wood
and resources, regardless of any treaty between nations. The players passed
pieces of oversized paper, emblazoned with trees on one side that were
flipped to dollar bills on the other while singing, "We cut down our forests
green, to grow up a money tree."

Finally, before the final tree had been cut, CPT team member Jessica
Phillips entered the scene, touching each representative while singing "Let
justice roll." Through this song, the Queen, Prime Minister and Premier
broke their mechanical movements and were freed to join in the song of

Over 150 people saw the dramatic piece on Feb. 1. The audience was composed
of native and non-native people, children and grandparents. One woman
stopped her work in a flower shop to come and watch the spectacle. When it
was over she smiled and clapped enthusiastically. She was not alone in her

CPT delegates and team members participating included Junanne and Lauren
Nancarrrow Clarke (Kitchener QC), Jessica Phillips (Chicago IL), Robert
Regier (Carlton SK), Matthew Schaaf (Winnipeg MB), and John Spragge (Toronto