Every summer, a diverse group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals embark on a 10-day canoe trip down the Grand River in southern Ontario. This annual event, known as the Two Row on the Grand, holds great significance as it brings to life the Two Row Wampum treaty, a historic agreement between the Haudenosaunee people and Dutch settlers over 400 years ago.
The Two Row Wampum treaty is symbolized by a belt made of white and purple beads. The white beads represent a river, while the purple rows signify two vessels, a ship for the Dutch and a canoe for the Haudenosaunee. This visual representation illustrates their shared journey down the river, while acknowledging the preservation of their respective laws, traditions, customs, and languages.
During the Two Row on the Grand, participants engage in more than just paddling. It serves as an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and a deeper understanding between different cultures. Indigenous historians, residential school survivors, and local knowledge keepers contribute to the journey by sharing their insights and experiences, making each stop along the way significant.
For individuals like Janet Donor, a participant in the trip, the experience is transformative. Donor, who returned to the paddle this year with students from the University of Guelph, emphasizes how this immersive experience goes beyond passive witnessing. It instills a sense of responsibility and partnership, compelling individuals to actively work towards reconciliation and understanding.
The impact of the Two Row on the Grand is not limited to participants alone. It also fosters trust between Indigenous communities and their allies. As Ellie Joseph from Six Nations of the Grand River notes, the journey creates an environment where cultural pride can flourish, allowing traditions and truths to be shared openly.
What is the significance of the Two Row Wampum treaty?
The Two Row Wampum treaty represents an agreement made between the Haudenosaunee people and Dutch settlers over 400 years ago. It symbolizes their shared journey down the river while respecting their distinct laws, traditions, customs, and languages.
What happens during the Two Row on the Grand?
During the Two Row on the Grand, participants engage in a 10-day canoe trip down the Grand River in southern Ontario. They stop at various communities along the way and listen to guest speakers, including Indigenous historians and knowledge keepers.
What impact does the journey have on participants?
Participants in the Two Row on the Grand often describe the experience as transformative. It deepens their understanding of Indigenous culture and the need for reconciliation, inspiring them to take action and build relationships with Indigenous communities.
How does the paddle foster trust between Indigenous communities and allies?
The journey creates an environment where cultural pride can be openly expressed. Allies have the opportunity to learn from Indigenous faith keepers, knowledge keepers, and community members, building trust and understanding between different cultures.