As Long as The Sun Shines, The Grass Grows and the River Flows

“As long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows”. This is a quote I have heard many times throughout my life. I thought this was a common quote most knew. However, I was wrong. To me, this quote states that treaties will last as long as these elements continue to live on. To others, it literally means sun shining, growing grass and a flowing river. I find this interesting. Throughout my education, I was fortunate to have teachers who incorporated Treaty Ed into all my classes. For instance, it was no surprise for an Elder to come into our classroom to share their knowledge with us. Or English classes incorporating Blanket Exercises into the lessons to teach us how the identity of Aboriginals was taken away in residential schools. Or when we were learning about residential schools, having residential school survivors come into our class, sharing their horrific stories that have deeply impacted me ever since. Or going to Treaty 4 gatherings in Fort Qu’appelle. Before moving to Regina and joining the Faculty of Education, I thought this teaching of Treaty Ed was common but it wasn’t until I started classes I learnt that my peers did not share the same experience. For instance, I was asked what a Blanket Exercise? At that moment I thought to myself, “this person cannot truly be serious, I did at least 2 Blanket Exercises during my education”. I guess this leads to this week’s blog post requirements. Mike and Katia began their reading response by discussing an email they received from an intern who was struggling with Treaty Ed as the students and staff were not taking it seriously. This is what got me thinking: “There are actually schools that don’t teach Treaty Ed? That is insane”. 

“As Long as the Sun Shines, the Grass Grows and the River Flows”
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Dear Intern-Who-Is-Trying,

You are not alone with your struggle with students being racist towards Treaty Ed. You are also not alone with unsupportive staff who do not understand why one must incorporate Treaty Ed into their classroom regardless of their student demographic. As I write this letter, I hope to answer two questions for you. 

The questions are as follows: 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 the curriculum that “We are all treaty people”. 

Let’s start answering this question by looking at the curriculum. Treaty Ed is in the curriculum. Math is in the curriculum. Do we teach math? Yes. Why? It’s in the curriculum. TREATY ED IS IN THE CURRICULUM. Teachers have an obligation to address all parts of the curriculum whether or not they agree with it. Let’s just keep that in mind. Maybe your colleagues at the school should be reminded of this. In Dwayne Donald’s “On What Terms Can We Speak”, he says “The way that you think about the relationship (between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples) has a distinctive bearing on how you take it up in the classroom,” meaning if you create a respectful relationship in the classroom, then the relationship will be respected but if you avoid the relationship in the classroom, it indicates you are avoiding the relationship. 

If educators decided to pull the “none of my students are First Nations, Metis, or Inuit” card, they are avoiding this relationship. But it is also important to note why educators may be avoiding this topic other than student demographics. Donald points out “teachers are to teach an Aboriginal perspective which they really don’t know a thing about” meaning teachers are unfamiliar with this perspective but as Donald goes on, he says “people [educators] do want to get better with teaching this but it will take time,” (5:00-5:10) meaning those who are unfamiliar with Treaty Ed are not alone and educators must communicate with one another to help each other build successful relationships between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals. This is an idea which many white settlers are uncomfortable thinking of since it goes against their own thoughts and opinions, however, once again, educators are not alone with this feeling. With Treaty Ed, comes the concept of disconnect. Donald describes disconnect to be a legacy of colonialism where colonialism is defined as “an extended process of denying relationships, whether it be with the places we live, our head, and our heart, or those people who look different from us, everyone has been colonized,” (12:00-13:00). This means by avoiding teaching Treaty Ed, we are falling into colonialism where we deny relationships. Cynthia Chamber also echoes a similar definition of colonialism as she writes in Chapter 1 (“We Are All Treaty People” The Contemporary Countenance of Canadian Curriculum Studies) that “The British honed their skills for enacting enclosure of the commons at home. But as their empire grew, so did their practice of removing indigenous peoples from the land held in common so that it could be put to ‘good’ use,” (27).  Also, it is important to note that by avoiding addressing Treaty Ed, racism remains high as Claire Kruger, a Moose Jaw teacher, mentions (Introduction video, 5:30). This means by avoiding Treaty Ed, stereotypes youth may hear from family, friends, the news, etc.… are not being debunked and the terrible cycle of racism does not end. 

Furthermore, you should simply remind teachers that we are all treaty people. This means we all are part of the treaty, as Cynthia Chamber mentions in her article. Furthermore, Claire Kruger mentions we are all treaty people as we live on the land – Saskatchewan is all Treaty Land so all people of Saskatchewan are treaty people! Kruger’s class video entitled “We Are All Treaty People” shows her young students explaining that the term “We Are All Treaty People” means that we all signed Treaties, we share the land and it is time we break barriers and begin to understand the term so everyone can move forward in a positive relationship with one another. In regard to curriculum, teachers are the ones teaching the notion of which “We Are All Treaty People”. As Claire Kruger mentions in her introduction video, teachers are impressible, we are the ones teaching the brilliant minds of tomorrow. It is up to teachers to give students the opportunity to explore Treaties and what they mean and to gain an understanding of why things happen in our society such as the decision Claire brought up of “who deserves clean water?” (Hint: The answer is EVERYONE).

Also, the Treaty Ed curriculum is “not about dates but relationships and owning the decisions in the future,” as mentioned by Claire in an interview with Mike Cappello (9:45-10:00) meaning teachers should not focus their teaching on historical dates but understanding the relationship between everyone on the land. In the interview, Kruger also mentions that Treaty Ed is about to understand who you are (ex: are you a settler?) and to understand the land which we live on. Treaty Ed curriculum is to be realistic where nothing is sugar-coated as Kruger mentions (18:00-19:00) such as explaining to students what actually happened to those who attended Residential Schools instead of just saying “Residential Schools were bad, and now on to the next lesson” as I believe by being realistic with Treaty Ed, we are helping understand our relationship with one another and to understand this world. 

While the argument “we didn’t sign the Treaties” may be brought up, it should be let known that the treaties will last as long as Mother Earth plans to live on. As well, the impacts of Treaties surround us and impact us all almost on a daily basis. Lastly, Kruger (in the interview) mentions that it is okay to teach Treaty Ed wrong, as long as you correct it, like the old saying “you learn by your mistakes” and we should not avoid it for reasons such as it does not fit the curriculum, because, in reality, it fits all curriculum.  By avoiding Treaty Ed, we are avoiding reconciliation. 

Yours truly,

  • Someone-who-hopes-to-enlighten-the-future

P. S. “the treaties were conversation starts, rather than conversation stoppers,” (Chambers, 28) just keep that in mind as you continue your journey as an educator. 

In the end, I hope Treaty Ed will prevail so students will be given opportunities similar to my own where I have a deep understanding of what it means to be a Treaty person. For readers, I leave with a couple of questions for you to ponder and feel free to share your thoughts with me!

  1. What experiences with Treaty Ed do you remember from your K-12 education?
  2. What would you do if the stigma at your school is to not teach Treaty Ed?

Until next time, 

  • Jayden

Additional Readings/Viewings

The Double R’s

The Double R’s: Rivers and Reinhabition. What is Reinhabition? According to the article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” written by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner and Edmund Metatawabin, reinhabitation is to “identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environment,” (pg. 74). Rivers can be compared to this. Rivers are a space in the environment, recognizably, the outdoor environment which has been proven in multiple studies on how the outdoors teaches us how to live healthily. While talking about rivers and their benefits to us and the environment is not relevant to this article, the connections between reinhabitation and decolonization within the Fort Albany First Nations in connection to honouring the Mushkegowuk Cree beliefs through a 10-day trip along a river. Throughout the article, examples of reinhabitation and decolonization can be found. 

The Elders and Youth went on a 10-day trip along a river
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For instance,

  1. Throughout the trip, a relationship was formed between the youth and the elders. 
    1. Ex: “Elders would share knowledge with youth about ways to live off the river and lands and note key sites along the way. As part of the project, youth and Elders travelled together…” (pg. 75)
  2. Youth were given the opportunity to exemplify their learning.
    1. Ex: “Youth conducted interviews with peers, adults, and elders on key issues…” (pg. 75). 
  3. Traditional teachings, such as language were taught. The Elders taught youth their language as they feared it might be disappearing.
    1. Ex: “Some community members worry that the decreasing use of words like paquataskamilk means that the ability to form a linguistic connection to traditional territory could be at risk within a short period of time,” (pg. 78). 
  4. The knowledge learnt was shared with others. 
    1. Ex: “Fifteen interviews were collected and formed the basis for a short audio documentary, titled The Kistachowan River Knows My Name, which aired in the local community and on Wawatay radio, which reaches a wide audience in Northern Ontario,” (pg. 75)
  5. The project encouraged discussions.
    1. Ex: “These smaller projects became part of the broader effort to engage the community in a discussion about what activities can and should take place on traditional territory and how decisions about those activities should be made,” (pg. 83).
  6. Knowledge was shared.
    1. Ex: “The river trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographic knowledge,” (pg. 81). 

Throughout the article, one could sense the Elders were pleased with the knowledge they passed onto the youth, as they feared it was becoming lost due to colonization. It was also apparent that the youth were engaged in what they were learning as they used audio aids to help encompass the trip and were made available to share with others. To continue, to read the article, one may feel like they can sense the power and emotions participants experienced. The personal accounts included in the article, I found, were very moving. When it comes to incorporating these ideas into my own classroom, I had a couple of ideas come to mind. Instead of trying to teach a concept I am unsure of like the idea of culture in a social studies class, I could invite families or those who identify as that culture into the classroom. Furthermore, the class could leave the classroom for a field trip. For instance, would students learn more about the Medicine Wheel from me, teaching it in the classroom. Or would they learn more by visiting an Elder in a space they are comfortable in, where they are able to engage more? This is all involved in Place-Based Education. For math, students could experience careers that deal with math on a daily basis so they can see math “in-the-real”. Place-based education can be done across many subject areas just like the examples above.  Incorporating place-based education into the classroom would better the students’ understanding and make their learning more meaningful to them as they learn about the land and so much more.  If the students find the learning enjoyable and meaningful, they will learn more than they would be sitting at a desk.

Until next time,

  • Jayden 

The Diary of a Good Student

A good student. I was a good student. I raised my hand when instructed, I handed my assignments in on time, I did anything the teacher asked of me. Did this work? Yeah sure, I got 90’s but why? Did I challenge the teacher? No. Did I look critically into what the teacher was saying? No. Did I dare to challenge what the teacher was teaching? No. I simply did well in high school merely because I just took the information the teacher told me, and portrayed that information through an assignment or a test. I never interpreted ideas, mostly because my ideas I knew, were not the ideas I would be assessed upon. I remember one instance where I did interpret a poem differently than the teacher. While my interpretation was correct, I got the answer on the test wrong. Why? Because the question was multiple choice and I had to choose either the answer which I gathered to be the correct answer or the answer which the teacher gathered to be the correct answer. I chose the answer I thought was right, based on how I interpreted the poem and was marked incorrect simply because it did not align with what my teacher decided the answer to be. I know right now this story may not make sense but keep reading to find out where I’m going with this!

In my opinion, multiple-choice assessment creates a good student as it requires students to answer the question based on the teachers’ answers.

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This week in ECS 210, we were required to read Kumashiro’s Chapter 2 “Preparing Teachers for Crisis: What It Means to Be a Student?” in the book, Against Common Sense. This article addresses what it means to be a “good” student according to commonsense. While the answer is not explicitly implied, it was implicitly stated. A good student is a student who answers questions with the answers the teacher wants to hear and does not question the teacher. These students are the one who fulfills teachers’ expectations and complies with rules and norms whether they are implicitly or explicitly stated. If we think about a “bad student” we often think of the student who talks without raising their hand and always questions the teacher. Or the student who is disruptive since they are not sitting at their desk. Kumashiro says “mainstream society often places value on certain kinds of behaviours, knowledge, and skills, and schools would disadvantage students by not teaching what often matters in schools and society,” (22) meaning society has determined what a good student is. This brings me to talk about the hidden curriculum. I wrote my first assignment on it and the notion of a good student reminds me so very much of the hidden curriculum. I have learnt the hidden curriculum to be the one where the dominant narratives of society are deemed important. An example is raising your hand. In Western culture, it is appropriate to raise your hand to answer a question while in other cultures, just saying your answer or your thoughts/questions can be said whenever. Is this correct? Should a student just be a memorization machine where they need to memorize answers the teacher expects of them? Or should we build students to be critical students? I believe we should build students to be critical students. I highly believe students are smarter than adults, they look at things with a new perspective and they are brilliant with their ideas. Students are more creative than adults, why? Because they are more fearless, especially younger students. Why? They have not gone through as many years as an adult of complying to what their superior says. If they want to believe a cloud looks like a unicorn, then let them. Don’t tell them it looks like a cloud. 

Do you see any unique shapes in the cloud? Or do you just see clouds because that is what you were taught?
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Furthermore, the students who are privileged by this definition are simply those who simply listen and accept what the teacher says. This assimilates students into being very similar. Students are not taught to be able to think on their own, because if they do, there is a high probability that their answer will be wrong because it does not agree with the teacher’s answer. Students’ who are defined as a “good” student doesn’t mean that is good. These students are not being taught to show their creativity, look at topics with different perspectives, or speak their opinion. If students are able to do this, then they would be good students because they are building critical-thinking skills which will serve many beneficial purposes. Every student will be able to succeed if the definition of a good student alters. 

Now I leave you with a question. Why were you a good student? Did you look at ideas through different perspectives or did you just memorize what the teacher said in order to pass a test? 

Until next time…


Life is full of choices. For instance, today, one of my choices was which outfit to wear. I had a wedding to attend and the weather was not warm at all. Thus, my outfit choices were put to the test. Should I wear dress pants and a nice shirt or should I wear a dress? Will I be overdressed if I wear pants? Will I freeze if I wear a dress? In the end, I wore both and switched outfits as part of the wedding was outdoors and part of the wedding was indoors. While this choice seems silly to discuss with you, it is simply an example of the many choices we face everyday. Where am I going with this? Keep reading to find out.

The most challenging aspect of this project I found was deciding a topic.
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For our first ECS 210 assignment, we were given numerous choices. The first choice was to either pick a curricular scholar or a topic/concept to examine? I chose to examine a topic. With this, I then had to choose a topic. What would I choose? Sex education and the curriculum? More than human and the curriculum? There were so many choices to choose from. To choose a topic, I picked on which interested me, while many topics interested me, one stood out. The one which stood out to me was ‘The Hidden Curriculum”. To start researching this topic, I simply typed in “The Hidden Curriculum” into the U of R library database where I was met with many results. From here, I saved a few articles to my account of which sounded interesting and related to my topic. After this, I began to read each of my saved articles and recorded which each one discussed. In the end, three articles stood out to me.

The article which caught my attention was Quality Indicators of Hidden Curriculum in Centers of Higher Education by Ghasem Barani, Fereydoon Azma and Seyyed Hassan Seyyedrezai. Within this article, the one line which grabbed my full attention was, “The hidden curriculum of the educational system reproduces the basic structure of the culture,” (Barani et al., 1658). Essentially, going off of this line, this article discusses how the hidden curriculum is related to culture, the dominant culture which in more cases than none, is typically white culture. This has detrimental effects to the students as well as the teachers, the article states. By following culture, class inequalities are also included in the hidden curriculum where different class students are treated differently unknowingly to teachers and to the students. With developing a keen interest on culture and the hidden curriculum, I read my articles I had saved in the U of R database, focusing my interest on society and culture. 

The article, Starting Where You Are, Revisiting What You Know: A Letter to a First-year Teaching Addressing the Hidden Curriculum written by Cassie J. Brownell relates to the article above. This paper is not your typical article, it is written like a letter with journal-like qualities which sparked my interest. This article addresses how society impacts the hidden curriculum. Like the article above, Brownell discusses how society creates inequality and creates a generational effect of inequality. But unlike the above article, this article discusses how the hidden curriculum is reflected in the world in general and how it is difficult for teachers to change this dialect. Lastly, a third article entitled, Belonging and Learning to Belong in School: The Implications of the Hidden Curriculum for Indigenous Students by Kiara Rahman is very similar to the first two articles as it also discusses society and culture within the hidden curriculum. It also talks about the effects seen from the impact of the hidden curriculum on the Indigenous students of Australia. 

Keep reading to see the next steps of my project!
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For the next steps, I plan to re-read the articles. This time, I will highlight similarities of the articles in one colour, and highlight differences in another. By doing this, I will be able to see the similarities and differences in the articles to gain a better understanding of the topic. From here, I will begin writing my paper. I hope to finish the paper in ample time to give myself enough time to proofread and make changes I deem necessary.

If you have any questions or comments about my progress, I would love to hear them!

Until next time…