Marilyn Malton, director of the Renison Institute of Ministry (RIM), has been selected to take part in a symbolic enactment of the Two Row treaty, a canoe trip taking place from July 21 to 28. A group of volunteers will paddle down the Grand River from Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre, located just south of Paris, Ontario, to Port Maitland on Lake Erie – a distance of around 114 kilometres. Throughout the trip, the group will paddle in two rows – one row comprised of Indigenous peoples, the other of non-Indigenous peoples – as a physical representation of the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
During the enactment, participants will stop at the Grand River Pow Wow and other cultural events. Everyone in the local communities is invited to participate.
“I am deeply honoured to be welcomed into this experience as someone who is learning how to act as an ally,” said Malton. “There is a long Biblical tradition that attests to the power of symbolic, dramatized action. I believe this symbolic enactment of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, along with the educational and cultural events and conversations in which we will be participating, has the potential to be transformative and healing in ways beyond what can happen through discussion alone.”
The Two Row Wampum Treaty is the original peace treaty signed between the Mohawks and the Dutch in 1615. It is considered by many to be the basis for all the subsequent treaties that would be established between Indigenous and European peoples. Represented by a wampum belt, the Two Row Wampum treaty belt showed two stripes running the length of the belt. The Two Row on the Grand website explains that the Mohawks and the Dutch, each represented by a stripe on the belt, agreed to “travel down the river of life in peace together – the Dutch in their ships and the Mohawks in their canoes. Further each would have their own laws, values and cultures, and would not try to “steer each other’s boat” (or) tell each other how to live.”
Asked how, after this voyage is completed, she plans to share the experiences and knowledge she will gain, Malton explained, “I’m a community educator. I bring people together through courses and events to engage with challenging topics and take action. I plan to incorporate my learnings with Renison’s Canada-Mexico International Learning Experience, which has a strong indigenous education component, in Renison Institute of Ministry programming and in community and church-based awareness raising, advocacy, and projects.”
The hope is that this experience will build friendships, allow individuals to participate in a journey of healing, and increase understanding of each other and their respective cultures.
For more information, see the official website of the Two Row on the Grandjourney.