We are all Treaty People

We are all Treaty People! – A video from Horizon School District #205

 

Here are some of my favorite lines from that video:

We are all treaty people. 

People don’t understand treaties.

You don’t need a status card to be a treaty person.

My family is from …. France, and Kawacatoose, … and Ukraine, and Russia, and Poland and Germany, … Fishing Lake First Nation.

And we are all treaty people. Because we’re Canadians. We signed the treaties.

It’s a sharing of the land – Witaskêwin, a lot of land … almost 10,000,000 square kilometres of it.

As long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows. Forever. 

And some of the important lines from the video:

Saskatchewan has  mandated treaty education from K-Grade 12 in all classes … in science and math, in English, in phys ed, as well as history.

Learning about treaties means understanding each other in schools, in workplaces.

Learning about treaties is the first step in getting rid of racism.

We’re divided. Let’s breakdown the barriers.

It’s more than history, it’s today. 

We are all treaty people. Now you know. 

So what are you going to do about it?

Today, I was in a grade 7 classroom and the students had a work period during their Social Studies time. Each group was reading part of a chapter and then they were going to present it to the class. The area of study was focused on early Canada and the migrations of the British and other countries into Canada.

One of the groups was looking at information talking about the Indian Act and reserves. I asked them about the notes they were taking and what these terms and the information they were reading meant. I posed questions like the following:

  • Tell me in your words what a reserve is?
  • What did the Indian Act do to the First Nations Peoples of Canada?
  • Did it benefit the people, or did it cause harm?

And they answered these questions, but did not really communicate their own understandings, they regurgitated the text book. When I started sharing some of my knowledge on the topics, they seemed to understand more. And then I as I thought about the above video, which I have seen many times, I asked a few more questions:

  • What is a treaty?
  • Are we all treaty people?
  • What does it mean to be a treaty person?
  • In the treaty boundaries of Saskatchewan, what treaty area are we in?

One out of the 3 students in the group one was able to answer 2 of those questions, showing limited understanding.

I was surprised at how little the students knew and understood. I can honestly admit, that most of my own understanding of Canada, the First Nations Peoples, and our history has come from university classes and workshops that I have attended from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner [OTC]. Some of my knowledge did come from elementary and high school, however I feel like when in university, I should have already known most of the information I was learning, at least in a basic sense. The truth is that I should have!

The OTC is a great resource and starting point for educators who are looking for information and resources on teaching treaties in the classroom. As well, each school and classrooms in Saskatchewan should have a box of resources – Treaty Kits K-12 that are resources, books, maps and information to help you teach the treaties to your students. This is a wonderful resource that Saskatchewan teachers need to be using in their classrooms and with their students.

The Saskatchewan Curriculum does include ties to First Nation’s understandings in all subjects of the curriculum. However I feel that this is not enough. All teachers need to make sure that the teach the content effectively and that it is included in their lessons. They should make sure that social studies is not the only subject where treaty education is being taught, as this subject can be taught and the information included cross-curricular. If this starts in the younger grades, and continues each year, students in high school that later go into the community or onto post secondary schooling will have an understanding of Canada, it’s people, the history and perhaps they will see our First Nations people in less of a negative light.

Let’s breakdown the barriers.

Let’s take the first and second and third steps etc towards getting rid of racism.

Let’s learn to understand one another, our past, and our present so that we can create a bright future.

Let’s educate our students!

Now you know. So what are you going to do about it? 

 

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