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Fish Market, Toronto, 1837. Watercolour by Joseph Clayton Bentley. Toronto Public Library.

Toronto Purchase signatures, original from August 1, 1805. Image: City of Toronto Archives

Map of Treaty 13 territory, 1911. Toronto Public Library.

Signatures and doodems (clan identification markings) on the Treaty 13, 1805. Library and Archives Canada.

  • Chief Wabakinine

    Chief Wabakinine (died 1796) was a warrior and the Head Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. On behalf of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Chief Wabakinine signed multiple land surrender treaties with the colonial British settlers, including Treaty 13 and the first Toronto Purchase of 1787.

    Chief Wabakinine and the Mississsaugas believed these treaties were being signed with the intention to share the land with the British, but the colonial settlers abused this trust and approached these documents as transfers of land ownership. This exploitation and abuse only worsened from the British, and led to the tragic death of the Chief as well as immeasurable trauma to the Mississaugas of the Credit.

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  • Chief Wabakinine

    In 1796, a group of Mississaugas, including the Chief and his wife and sister, traveled from the Credit River to Toronto (then known as York) to sell salmon, a main good for trade for Indigenous communities along the rivers at the time.

    During this trip, a British colonial soldier named Charles McCuen sexually assaulted Chief Wabakinine’s sister. In an attempt to save his sister, Wabakinine and his wife were attacked; both succumbed to their injuries on their route back to the Credit River. McCuen was never convicted for his involvement in the deaths due to a “lack of evidence.”

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  • Chief Wabakinine

    The life and death of Chief Wabakinine exposes the violence and injustice inherent in the British colonial system with respect to Indigenous communities. It also offers an example as to how colonial institutions did not value Indigenous voices, land rights, or methods of record keeping (such as through oral histories). Although the Mississaugas did not pursue revenge against the colonial government for the death of Chief Wabakinine, the injustice behind the treaty system led the Mississaugas to initiate a claim against the Government of Canada in 1986, which resulted in a cash payment of $145 million to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation in 2010.

    Studying stories like Chief Wabakinine’s with a critical lens is part of the TRC Calls to Action 62-65, which calls upon all levels of government and educators to teach about the histories and impacts of residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada.

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  • Chief Wabakinine

    Learn more about Chief Wabakinine and the treaties signed by the Mississaugas of the Credit at the Heritage Toronto plaque located near St. Lawrence Market at 11 Front Street East. Indigenous communities had been trading for decades with Europeans at what is today the St Lawrence Market area. Colonial settlers severely diminished Indigenous resources for trade such as salmon, through overfishing, increased pollution, and constructing dams.

    Additional Resources:

    First Story on Chief Wabakinine

    First Story Toronto, (formerly The Toronto Native Community History Project), within the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, has been engaged in researching and preserving the Indigenous history of Toronto with the goal of building awareness of and pride in the long Indigenous presence and contributions to the city.

    The Toronto Purchase of 1787: A Treaty Guide for Torontonians

    A Treaty Guide for Torontonians is the latest iteration of The Talking Treaties project and draws on years of questions, research, and discussion with Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, treaty historians, elders, artists, community leaders, and Toronto residents.

    Toronto Indigenous and Treaty History Timeline: Talking Treaties

    Talking Treaties is a multi-year Jumblies collaborative project that artfully shares Indigenous history and awareness of the place now called Toronto. Launched in 2015, the Talking Treaties project is directed by Ange Loft, in collaboration with many others. This resource was made in collaboration with the Toronto Biennial of Art.

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