As a white-settler, with ancestors hailing from various places in Europe such as France, Scotland, and Britain, my philosophy surrounding treaty education and responsibilities focuses heavily on acknowledgment of the past and on bringing about reconciliation. Reconciliation to me means coming to a place in which gaps between cultures are bridged, relationships are formed, and wrongdoings from the past do not continue to be perpetrated in the future. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada states that “Collective efforts from all peoples are necessary to revitalize the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and Canadian society” and thus, my beliefs and actions to bring about reconciliation as an individual center around relationship building as well.
I believe that as an educator and as an individual, to fulfill my treaty responsibilities and bring about reconciliation, I must continue to educate myself on the cultures of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the history of Canada, and on the history and continued significance of treaties. To educate myself, I must listen to and learn from Indigenous People’s stories and voices, I must learn to identify and correct my insensitive or ignorant behaviours and beliefs if and when they occur. Within the classroom, I believe I must bring in those who are more knowledgeable and who have more meaningful connections to Indigenous People’s history and culture. Bringing in people such as Indigenous elders, residential school survivors, or storytellers would be essential in teaching about treaties in a more accurate, inclusive, connected, and well-rounded way. However, if this is not possible, I should look to resources and information written or created by Indigenous people, such as those provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I believe that whenever I can, I should both educate my students about their treaty responsibilities and how they can work towards reconciliation, as well as give them opportunities to fulfill those responsibilities and work towards reconciliation themselves. I should give my students the opportunities to learn and form their own ideas about treaty responsibilities but also teach them about the importance of respecting the land and of reconciling with Indigenous Peoples. Allowing and encouraging my students to participate actively towards reconciliation is essential; for instance, attending treaty gatherings and participating in them and attending other public events and gatherings such as blanket exercises or powwows can contribute towards treaty education. I also think that it is my responsibility as a teacher to make my students aware of why some people may or may not identify with the term “treaty people” and why some of us do. I think that as an educator it will be my responsibility to provide all of my students with a thorough, age-appropriate, comprehensible, and accurate as possible understanding and awareness of what treaties are, what they mean, and what our responsibilities are regarding them.