- During fall semester several years ago, Dr. Mike Cappello received an email from an intern asking for help. Here’s part of it: “As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke. The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.”
- This is a real issue in schools. As you listen to Dwayne’s invitation/challenge, as you listen to Claire’s lecture and as you read Cynthia’s narrative – use these resources and your blog to craft a response to this student’s email, being sure to address the following questions:
- What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
- What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
If we were to do the bare minimum, Treaty Ed matters because it is in the curriculum. That means that to some level, the government of Saskatchewan has deemed it important enough information for everyone to know. In an interview between Michael Cappello and Claire Kruger. Claire talks about how she deflects parental criticism by being open and being accountable to the outcomes and indicators presented in Treaty Curriculum. If we were to go a little bigger, you could argue that reason we teach treaty ed to all students in because a treaty is an agreement done by two parties. In this case, it is done by the two parties that share the land called Canada or Turtle Island. Unlike other people groups in Canada – regardless of how unfairly Canadian treated them in the past, which is also an issue that should be addressed. Canadians have agreed to take on the responsibility to foster a relationship between two people groups – Settlers and Indigenous peoples. This makes anyone who lives in Canada part of the treaty, thusly, making them a treaty person. And there is a lot of treaty that is not upheld. In Claire’s introductory video she talks about how her two Indigenous nieces are treated in schools. They are always being put into boxes and labelled incorrectly. And despite the push for treaty ed. Claire and Mike also talk about this in their interview. About ow little of treaty ed. People actually have seen. This is shown through the field trip to see Indigneous peoples get their agreed-upon $5.00 or Claire’s language about how the land was given to them and how she was corrected. There are a lot of Canadians who still have very little awareness about how the treaties came about or what the history of the land is. The history of how our land has been colonized is still unknown or treated with contempt. Imagine if the Germans had this lack of reverence towards World War Two. It’s like what Cynthia Chambers talks about in her article We are All Treaty People. She talks about her great grandmother saying:
“[for] the immigrants of my grandmother’s generation it was if their adopted country had no story, or at least not one worth remembering” (25). If we dismiss treaty history we dismiss our adopted country’s history and effectively remove it from the minds of the people – even though as I said before, we already agreed to keep this history alive when we signed the treaties. Another idea that is pervaded in the We Are All Treaty People article is that if we allow erasure to happen then we allow for white privilege to dominate Canadian Culture, effectively silencing all minorities. “Treaties matter and treaties are still a thing” (ECS 210). We need treaty ed to teach our children how to become fully functioning citizens and so that we have healthy communities of children who understand their past, understand their current responsibilities and they are able to utilize it to understand how to move towards a better culture.