Treaty/Settler Education


It is so unfortunate that many teachers and students did not see the value in learning about Treaties and Indigenous ways of knowing. This is sadly a too common scenario both in schools where there are Indigenous students and schools where there are no Indigenous students, though certainly more common in schools with a lower Indigenous population. Cynthia Chambers states that she doesn’t “want to take for granted this opportunity I have been given to live differently than my ancestors.” (Pg 35) Our ancestors ignored the people who were here before they came and all of us now suffer the consequences of their near-sighted and selfish perspectives. If we fail to look beyond our own wants and needs, we would be making the same mistake and not only hurting the Indigenous people but also ourselves as we are, as Chambers says, all Treaty people. We must understand the responsibility that comes with being a part of the treaties if we want to make Canada a better place for all to live in. We must also look to the spirit and intent of the Treaties if we are to truly understand the commitment we have made as Canadians.

Claire talks about how Treaty education/Settler Ed is critical for non-indigenous students as many Indigenous students already know about Treaties and way of life. Non-indigenous students need that knowledge as it has been left unsaid or even spoken against. Her ideas and work into the Treaty education is inspirational.

It seems like an important place to begin is at an understanding of who we are, where we live, who lived there first, and that we are a part of a contract called Treaties. This is at the foundation of learning Treaty education and being able to go deeper.

Cynthia Chambers:

Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators:


4 Replies to “Treaty/Settler Education”

  1. Hi Jen! I really appreciate your quote from Cynthia Chambers about living differently than our ancestors. I know sometimes we find it difficult to see our ancestors’ selfishness. Those of us who come from settler backgrounds, myself included, can get caught thinking that our ancestors were justified in coming over because of the injustices and oppression they were also experiencing in their native lands. We also like to think that they were none the wiser of the Indigenous peoples, but logically, that cannot be true either unless it was intentional ignorance. Where our ancestors failed, it is now up to us to mend the relationships that have been ignored for generations, and as Chambers said, we need to live better. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank-you for your comment. It is really interesting and sobering to look at the injustices and oppression that are happening now as result of our ancestors immigrating here and not taking notice of whose land, life and culture were being destroyed as a result. It definitely pushes me to ask more questions and strive to live better.

  2. Jennifer

    Thank you for your thoughts on this topic, such an important conversation. Im curious how you would approach push back when teaching Treaty Ed and ways you envision authentically engaging with your classes. Something I am constantly considering myself.

    1. Riley,

      Thank-you for your comment. I would be clear that Treaty Education is mandated by the government and it is a vital part of our Canadian history. I would then work as hard as I could in helping the students see that it is relevant to their daily lives. This class has really emphasized that for me, in a very healthy way. Ways that I would try to help the students (and hopefully the staff) see the relevance is speaking about promises and commitments made to ourselves and the expectations that come from that. I would connect promises to treaties and the commitments on both sides. I would also incorporate learning about the land and the value it had and still has for the Indigenous people of Canada and how we have all benefited from use of the land that was not originally ours. Another topic that I would bring forward would the value of perspectives and seeing the whole picture, instead of just a piece.
      Hopefully in all of this students and other staff would engage and we could discover more together. Everyone might not, but hopefully most would at least have some new understandings.

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