The Office of the Treaty Commissioner marked a big event this week.

In a virtual ceremony at their Saskatoon offices the organization cut the ribbon to mark the opening of their new library and archive.

Current Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson said the opening of the new archives has been a long time in the making.

“We wanted to do it (the ribbon cutting) in November, but of coarse our COVID numbers started to rise, so we had to scale it down quite significantly and post pone it,” she said.

Culbertson explained they felt it was important to do an opening like they did to make people aware of the new facility.

The Treaty Commissioner added the new library and archive are important as they provide the documents, which have always been available to members of the public, a proper home.

“There was no place for them, it was in filing cabinets in a storage room in boxes,” she said.

The process of creating the actual achieve started over a year ago when Dr. Sheldon Krasowski was invited by staff at the Office of the Treaty Commissioner to do a presentation. Culbertson said after discussing setting up an archive with Krasowski, he agreed to come on staff with them to take the lead in getting everything set up.

“All this time during COVID, it’s been our main focus,” said Culbertson.

She added Krasowski has been assisted in his work by student volunteers, who also help him with research requests from the public.

Work is still underway to catalogue all of the materials housed in the new library and archive. However, it is estimated there are over 5,500 documents on hand. This includes not only archival documents but also oral history materials like videos and audio recordings.

Culbertson said some of the original materials which the archive has available are quite significant and unique to the work of the Treaty Commissioner in Saskatchewan.

“Diaries of past (Treaty) Commissioners, of coarse their historical Commissioners, documents that began being collected in 1989 from the first Commissioner,” she said.

Another interesting document in the archive is a photo book belonging to a former notorious Indian Agent which contained original pictures from 1908.

Culbertson said the new archive is truly one of kind as it is exclusively dedicated to treaty, which sets it apart from any other in Canada.

“As far as we know it is the only treaty archives in Canada,” she said.

(Photo Courtesy of Office of the Treaty Commissioner Facebook Page)