Week 7: Treaty Education
A student intern’s experience on Treaty Education in their field placement:
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.
- 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”?
As a young student I had always thought of the treaties as a negative event within history. While growing up I heard stories from my parents, nohkom and mosom that the treaties were agreements to share the land, which in return created a collective relationship between the two parties. However, these stories didn’t coincide to what I eventually understood about the treaties. My surroundings didn’t show me this collective relationship instead I witnessed the divide of two groups of people. I recall being very confused about it all, the stories I heard and then the treatment that First Nations received. I had come to think that the treaties were filled with misconceptions and these misconceptions led to the fate of First Nations peoples and the circumstances in which they lived. I had begun to only pay attention to the negative outcomes and not the good.
I found that the lack of learning about Treaties within my classroom made me feel negatively about the treaties because I didn’t understand them. I didn’t understand what they meant to First Nations people other than the collection of $5 and rations every year. So that was what the treaties became to me, one day out of the year where I went to my communities pow-wow grounds to pick up my $5 and rations. At one point, I recall my friends and I waiting years to collect the $5 so that when it built up it was actually worth something. I wasn’t educated on the treaties while in school, in fact I don’t recall ever learning about the treaties in a school setting until I was in my first year of university. So when I read the story of the intern’s experience of Treaty Education within their school I wasn’t surprised.
I think the lack of education on treaties creates perspectives that show us that this part within our history is not important. Similarly, the lack of knowledge toward the treaties had created negative perspective for me because even though my family told me about the treaties, the absence of it within my schools showed me that it wasn’t important for the other party. I think the purpose of treaty education is to gain an understanding of our history and what it contributes to the present and future. Treaty education is important to teach children so that we can create a better relationship between all our relations, one that exceeds the rocky relationship that was in our past. The purpose of teaching Treaty Education to everyone regardless of race is so that we could understand each other, so that we could give recognition to First Nations people and the land and move forward in creating a relationship with First Nations people and the land. The lack of education on Treaties in schools showed me that Aboriginal history was insignificant. The view that we are all treaty people helps students gain a perspective in understanding that we are all in this together. Prior to starting university I didn’t think of everyone as being treaty. I thought that just status band members were treaty but that view created this divide in my mind between Aboriginal people and others. To begin understanding that we are all treaty people creates a space with open views so that there is no longer a divide, so that there is a collective understanding that could move towards reconciliation for all relations.