Wanuskewin Heritage Park was the host for a historic signing of the Buffalo Treaty on Friday afternoon.

The Buffalo Treaty was originally signed in 2014 on Blackfeet territory in Montana.

The treaty is is an agreement between indigenous people across North America for the preservation of prairie ecosystems and their culture, which includes restoring buffalo populations to the continent.

8 First Nations in Canada and the U.S. originally signed onto the treaty and the signatories have been growing since then.

For Chief Daryl Watson of Mistawasis Nehiyawak, who previously signed onto the treaty, reaffirming his First Nation’s commitment is about restoration.

“Today is a very beautiful day,” said Chief Watson.  “It is a historic day and as you leave today be mindful the Nehiyawak people have always had a strong connection to mother earth and this is just one aspect of that and the revitalization of all treaties.”

The treaty signing came at the conclusion of a Buffalo Treaty gathering at Wanuskewin this week several First Nation members from across the province.  Three of them would become official signatories to the Buffalo Treaty.

“We are looking forward to the new signatories today at Wanuskewin,” said Blackfoot Elder Leroy Little Bear who spoke in depth on the history of the Buffalo Treaty and its purpose at Friday’s event.  “These new signatories show we want to honour our elders who wanted to see buffalo back on the plains on a daily basis.”

Members of the public who also wanted to uphold the tenants of the treaty could sign, while previous signees like Mistawasis Nehayak and Wanuskewin Heritage Park reaffirmed their commitment to the treaty.

“Today is a special day,” said Wanuskewin CEO Darlene Brander.  “We get to honour the historic relationship our people have with bison and to be a part of it for the future.”

Wanuskewin re-introduced buffalo to the region in 2019 and the herd is growing.

According to some comments at the event all First Nations under the Battlefords Agency Tribal Council will be signing onto the Buffalo Treaty at an event next month.

(PHOTO: Sylvia Neenah, an educator from Stoney Knoll First Nation was one of the supporting signatories to the Buffalo Treaty.  Photo by Joel Willick.)