James Bird, a Daniels Faculty Master of Architecture student, is a residential school survivor. In 2017, he partnered with Heidi Bohaker and Laurie Bertram, a pair of University of Toronto history professors, to create "Canada by Treaty," a travelling exhibition that explains Canada's history of treaty-making with Indigenous peoples.
Canada by Treaty, which originally took the form of a series of printed display boards, has been exhibited throughout the three University of Toronto campuses and in other prominent Toronto locations. Now, with the pandemic making it impossible for physical exhibitions to happen, the Daniels Faculty has helped transform Canada by Treaty's display panels into a website.
The exhibition explains some of the ways Canada has historically failed to live up to the spirit of its treaty obligations — particularly through its residential school policy.
"On the one hand, the government was signing treaties, but at the same time it was apprehending children and putting them into residential schools," James says. "We have this history of two stories being told: one of agreeing to land settlements, and the other of taking away Indigenous language and culture. It's a story of giving with one hand and taking with the other."