March 1, 2019
- 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”?
To me, “we are all treaty people”, means although one may feel they are not directly affected by treaties, or rather, by history, they are. We all live on treaty land. When the treaty was created, it was an agreement between two cultures of people. It should not only hold significance for the Indigenous Peoples, rather it extends to anybody that lives in Canada. My response to this student’s email would be as follows:
The purpose of teaching Treaty Education in the classroom is to educate everyone about Treaties, Indigenous ways of knowing, and about Canadian history. I will be first to admit that Treaty Education is a difficult, uncomfortable topic that may feel hard to approach, but that does not mean that it should be excluded from the classroom. You are right to think that even in a predominantly non-Indigenous classroom or school, that Treaty education is of value to the students. As Canadians, we all reside on Treaty territory and benefit from Treaty land and therefore, all play a role in Treaties. Treaty Education provides students with the opportunity to learn and understand many things about other cultures, which allows for a deeper understanding and a better perspective on the world as a whole. As Canadians, Treaties are part of our lives, even if we choose to ignore it. Remember though, there is no “opt- out” button if you’re still residing on Treaty land.
This might then, be a good place to start with your cooperating teacher. Provide the understanding that “We are all Treaty people” and in saying this take the time to explain the importance of Treaty Education. Think of it this way: If we choose to exclude Treaty Education, we are losing a large part of knowing about the history of Canada and Canadian identity, which in turn, also links back to the loss of respect for the Indigenous culture. This is our history, we all need to know, and understand it! This is a huge step in the right direction.
I recommend first doing some research and familiarizing yourself with Treaties though, before approaching your cooperating teacher and before approaching them in class. I recommend checking out Cynthia Chamber’s, “We are all Treaty People”, this interview with Claire Krueger, and Dwayne Donald’s lecture, titled “On What Terms Can We Speak”. Access resources within your community, such as Elders. They are very knowledgeable individuals who hold much Indigenous knowledge and other ways of knowing.
Cynthia Chamber’s writes an exceptional article about what it means to be a Treaty person. She explains that, “And, if curriculum scholars and practitioner, such as myself, consider the matter carefully, this IS our world. It is work that need to be done, for that, and for the common good; it is work best done together”. (Cambers, p. 35)
As Claire Krueger mentions in one of her blogs, teaching Treaty Education and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content is not something that you should just dive into. You must start at the beginning, similar to the idea of climbing a ladder. Regardless of the age of your students, it is important to think about previous knowledge students have been offered surrounding this matter. If it seems as if they have been offered nothing, refer back to the kindergarten curriculum. Build from there.
Dwayne Donald speaks more to the fact of the importance of relationships, especially when referring to Treaty Education. He explains that Treaty Education is not just about the offered information, it is about the relationships that are formed through the teaching of it. Help your students to understand the importance of relationships with not only others, but with Treaties.