Many individuals today are still coming to see the importance of something like Treaty Ed as it was never in schools years ago. If we don’t see the importance of it, it can be overwhelming to add “another thing” to the list of what needs to be taught. So, I would encourage you to be patient and understanding towards those in the school. Welcome questions and discussions to create an environment where students, and teachers, can share concerns with these topics, but also take the opportunity to explain the importance of these topics, and the truth that teachers need to be teaching this as it’s in curriculum.
Here are some reasons why we teach Treaty Ed and FNMI content and perspectives in all classroom settings:
- First off, we do it, as Claire shares in a video, to honour the history of this place, recognizing “the possibility of relating to each other in good ways”. First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content and perspectives, along with Treaty Ed, helps expand our understandings of those around us. There is little room for growth if we continue with what makes us comfortable and it does nothing to help the lives of those around us. We need to acknowledge the past and work together to create meaningful relationships for the future.
- One could argue Treaty Education is just as important – if not, even more important – for schools with little to no Indigenous students, as Claire shares. In fact, Claire refers to Treaty Ed as “Settler Ed”. It is not Indigenous peoples who most need to learn about something such as treaties, rather it is the rest of us who need to explore our underlying biases. Claire states, “what they [Indigenous students] want is for their classmates to know and understand the things that they know and understand about being Indigenous”. There has been a lot of past hurt that has unfolded into relationships today. Treaty Ed allows us to learn more about the unique Indigenous groups in Canada, hopefully making space for positive relationships.
As Cynthia Chambers wrote,
“But to find ‘my place,’ right here-to be responsible for how I live here, how I work this common ground with others-that does sound like common sense, and worthwhile labor. Work that is worth doing as best I can. And as treaty people, I believe, this is our common countenance. And… this IS our work…it is work best done together” (p. 35).
- Treaty Ed has many cross-curricula connections, relating to areas in Language Arts, or Social Studies. There are numerous ways to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and Treaty Ed in various subjects, helping students gain a wide perspective. So, yes, there is time for Treaty Ed.
- The truth is this content and these perspectives are in the curriculum, as Mike and Claire share in their lecture. It is our job as educators to facilitate an environment where students question, discuss, and grow in relation to Treaty Ed outcomes and FNMI perspectives. We must make space for healthy, respectful relationships for years to come.
- Furthermore, we are all treaty people. We all have a role to place in acknowledging the past and looking to how we can honour promises and maintain a healthy relationship on this land. Issues one may classify as “Indigenous issues” are really not so, rather, they affect us all. Again, it’s about relationship, and relationships take time. Just as I am learning how treaty affects me, so are many others, including fellow educators. If we are all treaty people, there is indeed a need in curriculum to discuss how that affects us.
“The ways in which teachers are taking up…Aboriginal perspectives in the classrooms…is directly connected to what they think of the relationship.”“On What Terms Can we Speak?” by Dwayne Donald
As both Claire and Dwayne mentioned in their lectures, we will make mistakes in our efforts to bring Treaty Ed and FNMI perspectives into the classroom – and that’s okay. We are all learning and growing. Thankfully, we have resources to help us as educators, such as these Treaty Education supports.
As you follow the curriculum, keep parents informed about what students are learning regarding Treaty Ed and FNMI perspectives. This helps foster relationships with families, and helps families learn alongside their child(ren).