Response Prompt: “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.” -Anonymous
Consideration 1: What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Education (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are a few or no First Nations, Metis, and/or Metis peoples?
Consideration 2: What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?
It is important to teach Treaty Education and the Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding. Generally, it is important to teach these topics because it is a HUGE part of Canada’s history. The relationships made and broken are crucial to the development of this country and shaped it in ways we still don’t understand. Clair Kreuger states in one of her videos, Introducing Treaty Education, that her school has few Aboriginal students and because of the small Indigenous student body more effort should be put into the cultural programming, teaching histories, and building relationships. It is important to teach the students of our schools the Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding so that they can gain knowledge about their country’s history and the people it still continues to affect. Dwayne Donald speaks about the importance of Treaty Ed in his lecture “On What Terms Can We Speak.” He states that the past and present are intimately tied together. Dwayne also quotes his colleague and friend, David Smith, who says “if you are going to think about the future, you are going to have to work backward.”
Treaty Education is also Settler Education, as Clair Kreuger puts it. This means it is all of our history and education. It has become a big part of the Sask curriculum, and rightfully so. As educators and future educators, it is important to be honest about this subject to all people, even young children. It is important to own the history of our country as well as explain how it effected the people of this country in order for us to move forward. Years ago, I was told by a wise woman that it took 7 generations for us to be where we are now and it will take 7 generations to get us out of it. She spoke of Residential schools when she told me this but it resonates with the topics at hand now. For us to get those 7 generations ahead, we need to work for it by learning about Treaty Education and Aboriginal content and perspectives.
Relationships are a huge way for all peoples to come together. For Indigenous peoples, relationships have always been important. As educators and schools, we can get involved by acknowledging these Treaty relationships. We can all participate in Tipi raisings or ceremonies, heart-to-hearts, assemblies, or even something as simple as wearing an orange shirt to show your support.
As each year passes it is more and more important for us as educators and teachers, schools, communities, and country to acknowledge the topic of Treaty Ed. This is not going away. It will only become more predominant. A good way to reach to parents and community members is through the above listed ideas as well as sending home emails and notices to families about what is being taught in class, proving them with the content you’re teaching so they can follow along with their kids, and being transparent with those around you. Part of our job, as Clair Kreuger puts it, is to teach parents the knowledge they lack on this subject. “We are all Treaty people.” When asked what this means to my understanding of curriculum, it becomes a hard question. It is important to acknowledge Treaties, the past of colonization, and everyone’s place in this history. I think it is crucial for us to work backwards in order for us to move forward. I suppose my answer for this is written above through my response to the other questions. As a person who is part of Treaty, I don’t know a lot about it and this is true for many people. As I move on to my next few years of school and into my career, I plan to look into Treaty Education more. This is a topic that is here to stay and I have a long way to go in learning my place and how to teach this to others.