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The Omushkegowuk people and other Indigenous signatories see the James Bay Treaty’s written document as one part of the agreement, and so it is sacred to their communities. With this significance, the Archives of Ontario has gladly fulfilled requests to display the original copy of the document in its collections at public events in the treaty territory.

“These are very, very historic documents that we have here. And having the Treaty document with us, to be able to honour and respect what our forefathers did in terms of the Treaty, in regard to their vision and their dream, and their aspirations for the future, I think it’s very, very special. … It’s a special moment for me, as well, as a grandson of a signator to the Treaty. That my own grandfather, my own blood, Andrew Wesley … put his mark … signifying his agreement to what he had heard from the commissioners. They did all for this for us.”

-Dr. Stan Louttit, during the display of the Archives of Ontario’s copy of the written document at the James Bay Treaty – Treaty No. 9 Conference, Moose Cree First Nation, August 2013

Displaying the written document requires the expertise of the Archives’ Preservation Services. The document is made of parchment (animal skin, typically calf, sheep or goat), a reactive material that wants to draw in moisture from the air. Changes in humidity can cause expansion and contraction, rippling, loss of media (i.e. writing), and other problems. A stable surrounding environment is essential for document’s longevity.

That’s why the Archives of Ontario takes great care to prepare the treaty pages for shipping, handling, and display. The Archives uses a mounting method that monitors humidity changes inside the display frames. Thin Japanese paper strips are adhered to the parchment and conservation mat board, allowing for the parchment to naturally expand and contract and avoiding damage. In addition, silica controls the presence of too much or too little moisture. The document travels in three custom-made moving crates, and humidity and temperature are constantly monitored with dataloggers.

Slideshow: Preservation Treatments

Click below to learn more about the preservation treatments required for display of the treaty’s written document:

The Archives’ copy of the written document has been on display at the following events:

Letter from David Ciglen
Click to see a larger image

Miyopin Cheechoo, looking at the first page of the written treaty document at the Treaties 1 - 11 National Gathering at Taykwa Tagamou Nation, August 2017
Photo courtesy of Christina Nielsen

Letter from David Ciglen
Click to see a larger image

Written treaty pages on display at Kishay Pisim Mamawihitowin - Great Moon Gathering, Northern College, Timmins, February 2019

Is there a document or heirloom that is particularly special to you and your community? What measures do you take so it will last for future generations?

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