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Aimée Craft

Aimée Craft, B.A. (L.-Ph.) (University of Manitoba), LL.B. (University of Ottawa), LL.M. (University of Victoria), is an Indigenous lawyer from Manitoba. She recently completed an interdisciplinary Masters in Law and Society at the University of Victoria. Her thesis is entitled Breathing Life Into the Stone Fort Treaty and focuses on understanding and interpreting treaties from an Anishinabe inaakonigewin (legal) perspective.  

In her legal practice at the Public Interest Law Centre, she has worked with many Indigenous peoples on land, resources, consultation, human rights, and governance issues. She is chair of the Aboriginal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and was appointed to the Speaker’s Bureau of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Indigenous Peoples and Governance Graduate Research Scholarship. 

Her pro bono work includes participation in the development of Federal Court Practice Guidelines for Aboriginal Law Matters, including Oral History and Elders Evidence. She is a sessional lecturer and research affiliate at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law, and has lectured at other universities and presented at conferences in the areas of consultation and accommodation, treaties, Indigenous laws, language rights, and Aboriginal and treaty rights. In 2009, she successfully argued on behalf of language rights advocates in the first entirely French hearing at the Manitoba Court of Appeal. 

Aimée is proud of her ancestors, their legacy, and the teachings they have gifted to her and others. She is especially thankful for her family — immediate and extended — and for the land she belongs to.

A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: 11; 12; University/College;

“It can start with a knock on the door one morning. It is the local Indian agent, or the parish priest, or, perhaps, a Mounted Police officer… The officials have arrived and the children must go.”

So began the school experience of many Indigenous children in Canada for more than a hundred years, and so begins the history of residential schools prepared by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Between 2008 and 2015, the TRC provided opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to share their experiences of residential schools and released several reports based on 7,000 Survivor statements and 5 million documents from government, churches, and schools, as well as a solid grounding in secondary sources.

A Knock on the Door, published in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), gathers material from the TRC reports to present the essential history and legacy of residential schools and inform the journey to reconciliation that Canadians are now embarked upon. An afterword introduces the holdings and opportunities of the NCTR, home to the archive of recordings and documents collected by the TRC.

Survivor and former National Chief of the Assembly First Nations, Phil Fontaine, provides a Foreword, and an Afterword introduces the holdings and opportunities of the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation, home to the archive of recordings, and documents collected by the TRC.

As Aimée Craft writes in the Afterword, knowing the historical backdrop of residential schooling and its legacy is essential to the work of reconciliation. In the past, agents of the Canadian state knocked on the doors of Indigenous families to take the children to school. Now, the Survivors have shared their truths and knocked back. It is time for Canadians to open the door to mutual understanding, respect, and reconciliation.

“The attempt to transform us failed. The true legacy of the survivors, then, will be the transformation of Canada.” – Phil Fontaine, from the Foreword

A Knock on the Door is a book that I hope every Canadian will read, and read deeply. The transformation of this country begins with acknowledging what happened after that knock on the door. Acknowledging, understanding the implications, and then resolving to do something for positive change. It’s right that the TRC Calls to Action are included, for we are all called to action.” – Shelagh Rogers, O.C., TRC Honorary Witness

"Seven volumes from a nationwide inquiry into the legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools have been condensed into a compelling book that is both accessible and well-documented. The central conclusion—that the schools were part of a deliberate cultural genocide policy aimed at the continent’s first peoples, spearheaded by the Canadian government with the support of mainline churches —is clearly supported by historical references, gut-wrenching personal stories, and a thorough analysis of a system that forcibly removed indigenous children from their families.” – Publishers Weekly 

Educator Information
This book is recommended for grade 11 and 12 students for courses in social studies and social justice (also useful for college/university students in courses of a similar nature).  This book is also a useful teacher resource.

Caution: physical and sexual abuse is discussed in this book.

Additional Information
Edited and Abridged | 296 pages | 5.50" x 8.50" | 11 b&w photographs | maps | bibliography

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishnabe Understanding of Treaty One
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg;

In order to interpret and implement a treaty between the Crown and Canada’s First Nations, we must look to its spirit and intent, and consider what was contemplated by the parties at the time the treaty was negotiated, argues author Aimée Craft. Using a detailed analysis of Treaty One – covering what is today southern Manitoba – she illustrates how Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin) defined Treaty One negotiations and opened the door to a “gathering of spirit.” Those laws included the obligations and responsibilities that derive from the relationship to the land, the need to wait for all participants before negotiations began in order to respect their jurisdiction and decision making authority, and the rooting of the treaty relationship in kinship, including references to the Queen as a mother. These legal concepts and many more are examined in this book with the author illustrating how the terms of Treaty One were defined by such principles. Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin) defined the settler-Anishinabe relationship well before the Treaty One negotiations in 1871 – for example the Selkirk Treaty of 1817 which in part laid the groundwork for Treaty One. While the focus of this book is on Treaty One, the principles of interpretation apply equally to all treaties with First Nations.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text