Coming from a community that had very little Indigenous representation, I struggled to understand why Treaty Education was involved within the schools. Like Dwayne Donald, I came into university with a very limited understanding of Indigenous culture and history. Many times teachers have a limited understanding of Aboriginal perspectives, especially when they were growing up, so the lack of knowledge is spread to the students which creates an ongoing cycle. This cycle continues within homes and communities. Unless people are educated on the issues that surround our country the racism and issues will continue for future generations. As educators we are responsible for teaching students the importance of upholding the promises within the treaties, which may result on students taking these lessons home to share with others. Throughout my time at the university I have found that treaty education does not always have to be having a large feast or having a pipe ceremony but rather it is giving a voice to those who were silenced for many generations. Treaty education gives a chance for all students to feel represented within the information being learned.
Having events such as round-dances or feasts within the school or at a community center expands treaty education to others who did not receive a holistic education. As educators we are not only educating students about treaty education but we are also teaching them the importance of social justice and how they can use their voice to educate others. By properly educating one student, you could be educating their entire family on issues that they were not even aware of. For some communities this is a hard and uncomfortable discussion but as Pam Palmater explains in her lecture “if it feels good, then it is not reconciliation”.
There are steps being taken to work towards reconciliation all over Canada including land acknowledgements at sporting events and large gatherings, but this is not enough. To truly walk towards reconciliation requires action must be taken meaning it is more than just saying that “this is treaty 4 land” but showing that there is respect for treaty 4 land. For example having statues of influential people or having centers in which indigenous peoples can go and see themselves and their culture represented. ‘
Treaty education should not be isolated into a lesson but rather should be integrated into all possible areas of the lessons. As Claire Kreuger explains in her videos, treaty education opens the curriculum to so many options, especially for cross curricular courses. She shows an example of her class having a garden which they built and maintained; the entire process used treaty education from the blessing of the soil to the plants that they chose to grow. These students were able to see Indigenous content integrated into their daily activities.
As Dwayne Donald explains treaty education should not be isolated but integrated and enrich the information being learned. It is not the responsibility of Indigenous peoples to educate others. It is our responsibility as Canadians to be educated about Canadian history and current issues that affect Indigenous peoples.
As Cappello and Tupper explained that “[t]eaching treaties in the classroom offers a perspective that is largely lacking in commonsense understanding, and in curriculum. By focusing attention on the signing of treaties, and therefore recasting that historic relationship between First Nations and the Crown in a more historically accurate light, students’ lack of understanding is addressed.” (567). I chose to teach treaty education in my classroom so my students can see the impact Indigenous people have on Canadian history and large issues that they face on a daily basis. I choose to have my students look through mirrors (their ancestors) and windows (others who have impacted history) when learning to have a larger more developed world view.
Videos that are very beneficial to watch
Pam Palmater’s lecture: ‘Truth and Reconciliation in Canada: If It Feels Good, It’s Not Reconciliation’
Dwayne Donald:We need a new story to guide us
Cappello and Tupper’s article:
Teaching Treaties as (Un)Usual Narratives: Disrupting the Curricular Commonsense