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#TreatyEdCamp 4.0

Tan’si! Tawnshi! Aaniin! Hau! Aba Washded! Hello!**

#TreatyEdCamp is back for a fourth year! Help us spread the word about this important professional development opportunity coming up at the University of Regina, in the Faculty of Education, on Saturday, October 13th from 8:30 – 4:30pm (register here). There is also a pre-conference happening on Friday, October 12th from 5:00 – 6:30 pm where we will hear from our first keynote speaker and then debrief at a local establishment to continue the conversation afterwards (register here).

This free event is open to teachers, pre-service teachers, faculty, and the general public – anyone who is interested in learning more about the legacy of residential schools, Treaty Education, and the historical and contemporary implications of Treaty. We are very excited to be hosting two incredible keynote speakers this year: Winnipeg-based comedian Ryan McMahon (Friday night) and two-spirit Nēhiyaw (Cree) writer and student Erica Violet Lee (Saturday).

We also have an incredible lineup of presenters who will be discussing a variety of topics, including:

  • Indigenizing Teaching
  • Smudging in Schools
  • Creating ‘Nation Builders’ in Our Schools
  • Treaty Education in the Math Classroom
  • Treaty Education in the Elementary Classroom
  • Regina Indian Industrial School Site and RIIS Commemorative Fight for Heritage Status
  • Treaty 4 Project (English and French presentations)
  • French Indigenous Children’s Literature

Additionally, we are offering a stream of anti-oppressive sessions this year, including:

  • Introduction to Positive Space Workshop (UR Pride)
  • Introduction to Sex and Gender Workshop (UR Pride)
  • Creating Inclusive Classroom Spaces (Fyrefly)
  • Fyrefly Youth Panel Discussion
  • Anti-Oppressive Approaches in English Language Arts

This year, we will begin the day on Saturday with men’s and women’s pipe ceremonies beginning at 7 am for anyone who would like to attend. As well, this year’s event will include a showcase area with resources available for purchase as well as samples of student work related to Treaty Education. The new teacher store, Inspiring Young Minds to Learn, will be selling resources including Treaty maps, children’s books, posters, teacher guides, bulletin board sets, web resources, and more.

Everyone will leave this event with new resources, a better understanding of Treaty Education in practice, a network of people to rely on for support, and a greater understanding of the significance of Treaty to our work as educators and to the process of reconciliation.

We hope you will consider attending the fourth annual #TreatyEdCamp. As well, if you are interested in volunteering, please fill out the volunteer sign-up form. Spread the word, and be sure to register at the links above!

Thanks so much. kininaskomitin.

The #TreatyEdCamp Committee

#TreatyEdCamp recognizes the Treaty 4 territory on which this event is located, as well as Treaty 6 territory where the U of R also offers programs, and we wish to acknowledge the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota peoples of Treaty 4 territory as well as the four historically Métis communities in this region – Lebret, Fort Qu’Appelle, Willow Bunch, and Lestock.

** In the spirit of reconciliation, we are working towards being inclusive of Indigenous languages, but we are still learning! We would love your input (or your corrections!) and understand the importance of being in relation with each other as we try to find the right words.

#TreatyEdCamp 2.0

It is back! Treaty Ed Camp 2.0 is happening October 1, 2016 from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm! There is an optional pipe ceremony at 7:00 am!

#TreatyEdCamp 2.0 is the free personal and professional development event sponsored and organized by UR S.T.A.R.S. Based loosely on the EdCamp model, this is PD organized for teachers by teachers, with a particular focus on the implementation of Treaty Education in classrooms as well as on the role of schools and educators in the work of reconciliation.

The day will be structured around three big questions:  What does Treaty Education mean; how do we do it; and what does reconciliation look like in our schools, classrooms, and communities?  We are bringing together some awesome teachers who are doing Treaty Education in their classrooms to share their experiences, and we ask that you come with an open mind and prepared to share and discuss your own experiences.  If you are interested in presenting, please email us at!

Everyone will leave this event with new resources, a better understanding of Treaty Education in practice, a network of people to rely on for support, and a greater understanding of the significance of Treaty to our work as educators and to the process of reconciliation.

This year, we’re offering the option to purchase a lunch for $5.00. Lunch includes soup, bannock, and a drink. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a vegetarian or gluten free option. In order to ensure that we have enough food, lunch must be purchased in advance through Eventbrite, and sales of lunch tickets will be closed on September 19th. Please note that if you choose not to purchase lunch, TreatyEdCamp tickets are free (but we do ask that you sign up through Eventbrite so that we have an idea of numbers!).


Out With The Old; In With The New

Co-written by Meagan Dobson and Raquel Bellefleur

This year has flown by. It is hard to believe we are wrapping up our term as the Executive Directors of UR S.T.A.R.S. When we stepped into this position a year ago, we could never have imagined what a positive impact this experience would have on our lives.

UR S.T.A.R.S. has propelled us towards so many great things both personally and professionally. Developing close relationships with our mentors, other educators, and members of the community; participating in ceremony; learning about and teaching alongside Treaty Education and decolonization; and navigating anti-oppressive education and reconciliation as frameworks for both teaching and life. We have shared many successes and a few late night tear-filled phone calls; this work is messy and we have made mistakes, but we have (un)learned so much in the process and it has been exceptionally rewarding.


Presenting at Ed Camp YQR (Fall 2015)

Treaty Ed Camp 1

Opening Treaty Ed Camp 2015

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Presenting at Investigating Our Practices (IOP) Conference

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 10.27.54 PM

Presenting at Teaching and Learning with the Power of Technology (Tlt 2016)

At this time we would also like to introduce you to the amazing individuals who will be stepping into the role of Executive Director come fall: Amy Martin, Cassandra Hepworth, and Jasmine Korpan. These ladies will undoubtedly guide UR S.T.A.R.S. through many more successes. We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to work and learn alongside them this year and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store for them.

We are both really looking forward to our next steps – internship in grade 8 at Sacred Heart Community School for Meagan and teaching grade 6 at W. F. Ready Elementary School for Raquel. We will definitely continue to draw on the experiences we have had and the relationships we have developed through our work in S.T.A.R.S.

This past year has been literally life-changing for us. We are sad that this chapter is ending, but we are looking forward to continuing this journey and seeing how our growth through S.T.A.R.S. will transfer into our personal and professional lives in new and exciting ways. Our story is far from over; we hope that you continue to walk alongside us.


Meagan and Raquel xx

RIIS Social Media Campaign


Photo from RIIS Media Project

The Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS) operated from 1891-1911.  It was demolished by fire in 1948, but after the building was gone, the remains of over 30 students were left behind in a small, mostly unmarked cemetery.  The site is located at 701 Pinkie Road, just west of Regina.  It has changed hands many times, but is currently in the possession of a private owner who is unable to maintain the cemetery or give it the attention it deserves.

The TRC includes three Calls to Action related to the commemoration and memorialisation of schools and cemeteries where victims of the Indian Industrial Schools are buried.  We are most concerned with #75:

We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

A group of students from the University of Regina are starting a social media campaign; the focus of the campaign is to draw attention to the RIIS site (and the issues surrounding the site) and to support the ongoing work that RIIS Commemorative Association Inc. and other community orgnizations have done thus far by putting pressure on the municipal, provincial, and federal governments to commemorate the site in alignment with Call to Action #75.


  • SHARE! Using different social media platforms, share news articles and historical facts, as well as your personal thoughts/reactions. Make sure to use the hashtag #RIISup.
  • Sign the petition for the commemoration of the RIIS school site.
  • Start Project of Heart in your own classrooms/schools.
  • Fill out and mail a postcard – this is something you can do on your own or with your students/school.
  • Hold Mayor Fougere accountable to his commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
  • Visit the site.

For more information on the RIIS:

Moving Towards Reconciliation: Why Planting Trees is Not Enough

Co-written by Raquel Bellefleur & Meagan Dobson

What does ‘reconciliation’ actually mean?

Like many, we entered our post-secondary education with limited information about Treaties and the ways in which the two of us are positioned in society as a result of our privilege. We have spent the past three years learning and unlearning alongside mentors (professors) and like-minded peers – all of which has contributed to our personal and professional growth during our time in the Faculty of Education. We established S.T.A.R.S. (Student Teachers Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society) Regina in 2014 as an outlet for our exploration as socially just, anti-oppressive educators.

Despite progression towards change in our hearts and minds, we continue to struggle with the disconnect between thought and action. Yes, we are our own toughest critics; however, it is important to be critical of ourselves because that’s how we will continue working through our privilege/push ourselves to keep doing this work.

We know reconciliation is important, but how can our inner changes translate into outer action?

False Facade

In the work we have done, one thing we have struggled with is our ability to switch off or walk away from the work, especially when it becomes most discomforting. We can do this because of our privilege.

Although performance (meaning the ability to “try on” an identity as an anti-oppressive educator) can be a positive thing, there is a fine line between using performance as a starting point and completely abandoning anti-oppressive work while continuing to receive recognition and praise for it.

For example, although we both believe that meaningfully engaging in ceremony is part of the reconciliation process, there have been many times that we have turned down opportunities to participate because we were “too busy” or had other things to do.

Ultimately, our lists of priorities that prevented us from participating was our privilege in disguise.

Our privilege means that we can say and think things like: I don’t need to go to this; this doesn’t affect me; my life won’t change whether I go or not. Yet, even when we have participated in ceremony the potential to be unaffected by the experience is a reality – we can cut ourselves off from it just enough so that we are not personally affected by it.

What is being an ally?

We would love to be able to say we are allies of our Indigenous friends and colleagues; however, we realize that we cannot give ourselves that status. Showing up to ceremony does not make us allies; putting ourselves in a physical space is not enough. We need to make a consistent effort to authentically work towards reconciliation rather than superficially and periodically visiting the idea – committing to being witnesses, not tourists.

Receiving Cookies

Something else we’ve struggled with is receiving so much praise for our work with S.T.A.R.S. Regina. Noel Starblanket often wears his S.T.A.R.S. t-shirt and often commends our group when he speaks. Our #TreatyEdCamp event was recognized in the Legislative Assembly. Dr. Jennifer Tupper, the Dean of Education, sends out tweets like this:

We are grateful for any recognition we receive, but it is still problematic. Due to our privilege, we are positioned as “good white people” and praised for doing very little. Dr. Michael Cappello calls this kind of praise “receiving cookies.” We’ve been really uncomfortable with being positioned in this way and are unsure of how to respond respectfully.

Moving Forward – ReconciliACTION

This post started with us asking each other:  What have we ACTUALLY done? We provided opportunities for learning through PD events like #ReadtheTRC; we brought teachers together to learn about integrating Treaty Education into all subject areas; we’ve had many conversations about power, privilege, and reconciliation. But what effect is that ACTUALLY having on us and others? How do we move from talk to action?

Although we are still wrestling with these questions, we’ve tried to identify a few of our next steps:

  1. Listen to Indigenous colleagues when they say this is good work. 

Although it’s important to be critical of ourselves, we must be careful to not fall into a cycle of cynicism. We won’t dismiss encouragement and praise from our wonderful allies, but we will not to take it as more than it is. We cannot allow these ‘cookies’ to lead to our complacency or tempt us into apathy. We must remember that our Indigenous allies are happy to see these starting points, but also expect much more from us. While we are grateful for any recognition, the feedback and input of our Indigenous colleagues and friends is most important because they have been directly impacted by this history. It is these relationships that are central to reconciliation and our movement forward.

  1. Start with conversations.

We know they are ‘Calls to Action’, not ‘Calls to Conversation’, however, we need conversation to guide us to the right ways to do this work. As Gary Edwards explained at Taking Up the TRC Calls to Action, we know we’re in a time of real change because nobody knows what to do or how to do it.

We also need to have conversations with our peers, colleagues, profs, siblings, parents, grandparents, and anyone else who might not know about the horrific historical injustice, or the painstaking work put into the TRC, or what the Calls to Action mean for reconciliation. Although this conversation may be uncomfortable and difficult, we must commit to it. It’s far too important to remain silent and our silences will not protect us anyway. These truths must be spoken.

  1. Build relationships.

We have often heard, “Reconciliation is about relationships,” but wondered how we could go about springing up relationships out of nowhere. The best we can come up with is putting ourselves in spaces where there is potential for relationship building. We will participate in ceremony and seek out public events, like the lecture by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair and the roundtable discussion Taking Up the TRC Calls to Action, where connections and relationships might start to form. We will listen to the advice of Emerging Elder-in-Residence Joseph Naytowhow, who encouraged us to use laughter as a way to enter into relationship.

  1. Take responsibility. Pick a Call to Action and commit to it.

After Sinclair spoke, many people stood up in the lengthy line for the microphone to ask questions that sounded like: “…So what do we do?” to which he replied, “I just wrote a 5000-page report. What are you willing to do?” He urged us to read the report, or at least some of it:

He encouraged us to pick a Call to Action, to work to make it happen, and to never stop.

Sinclair used the metaphor of planting trees to describe the importance of starting to do this work and never stopping. We will not see reconciliation fulfilled in our lifetime; our kids may not see it fulfilled in theirs. But we need to start with planting seeds and teaching our children to water them so that their children might see the saplings and then their children might see the roots deepen, the trunk widen, and the branches fill out. We need to commit to this work for future generations.

We commit to Call to Action #62. We will teach about residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada. We will continually learn how to integrate and utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into our classrooms and we will provide opportunities to help our colleagues do the same.

The Choice

We’ve realized that instead of carrying the weight of undoing colonialism and achieving reconciliation, we need to start with planting seeds. Is planting the seeds enough? Not even close. But we have to start somewhere. And for us, it starts with the decision to commit to this work for the rest of our lives.

We will need help along the way to ensure we do not give in to our privilege, which will tempt us to apathy, to smugness, to being tourists rather than working towards witnessing. Will you challenge us when we set foot there?


“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” -J.R.R. Tolkien.

This is life’s work, and we must choose it every day.


Considering Privilege as an Educator

This post originally appeared on Paige Mitchell’s blog.

I’ve been thinking about privilege a lot lately. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts, but there is so much I want to say. It is my goal to be an anti-oppressive educator, so I’ve been considering some bigger questions about power, privilege, and my personal capabilities. What do I do with my unearned privilege? As an educator, what can I do about power and privilege? How can I overcome my own fears around showing my own vulnerabilities?

To begin, I am aware of my privilege as a white, middle-class, straight woman. I was also the traditional “good” student. I had societal support and the kind of personality that allowed me to succeed in the education system. Now that I am aware of systemic inequality and my own privilege, I know that I have to use my voice to make the school system equitable for all.

What can I do about my unearned privilege? I can use my voice to be an ally in changing systemic inequity. That means that I will give up my privilege. It means that I will stand up against injustice; because as an educator, I want to know that the system I am part of does not disadvantage some and privilege others.

As an educator, what can I do about power and privilege in the school system? I can be culturally responsive. I can include many different perspectives, not just those that our history has privileged. As an English educator, I can teach my students to read texts and the world through different lenses to see varied perspectives, privilege, injustice, and unfair common sense ideas. I can question my biases. I can question the way systems work. I can question common sense. I can ask others, and I do, is there something I’m missing? In what other ways can I be a part of changing issues of power and privilege in my classroom and in student’s education? I want to hear more thoughts on this.

How can I overcome my fears around showing my own vulnerabilities?

A huge part of my teaching philosophy stems from my own challenges, which led me to see the way the system did not work for all. As a teacher, I want to give my students a safe environment. I want them to know that I am working to support their learning and their needs, not to satisfy my ego. I have always wanted to be an ally for my students, and for them to know that I will stand with them in that capacity.

However, I am now questioning my ability to use my voice. I am afraid to be vulnerable. I am afraid, sometimes, to use my voice. I am afraid to open up about issues that hit closer to home, about issues that have hurt me personally, about the overwhelming anxiety that I struggled with in high school and continue to struggle with now. It’s too real. I would look weak. Or I would just be making something out of nothing. I don’t want to be looked at differently. Do I have a choice? Do others who feel this way have a choice?

So the next question is, how can I be a model and an ally for my students if I am silent? How can I be an anti-oppressive educator, when I am so afraid to give up the privilege I have from being silent about my personal challenges? How can I expect others to do the same? How can I overcome this and do what I set out to?


Teaching Privilege in the Class

This post originally appeared on Brady’s Teaching Blog.

Teaching privilege in class is important to me. It’s a truth. Further, I’m the poster boy for privilege. Honestly, I’m white, male, middle class, able-bodied, straight, all the concepts that encompass privilege. I have visions of me teaching about privilege in my classroom. Sometimes, though, I wonder how the composition of my classroom will respond to teaching about privilege.

I think that teaching white kids about privilege is going to be difficult, but not impossible. I think that students of minority will not have to be taught about privilege at all. The problem is, my classroom is going to be a tapestry of students, and each one will have a different outlook on privilege. Some will be victims of it, and some will be beneficiaries. In this classroom climate, how will I be able to teach privilege in a way that lets my white students see how they are privileged without minority students having to hear about privilege while they live without it every day? It just seems like a weird scenario that could be difficult. I think that white students need to have different conversations than the conversations that minority students need to have.

This is an anxiety I experience very often. While I’m happy that my classroom is likely to be a microcosm of the diversity in Canada, it’s going to be extremely difficult to make lessons and have conversations that any student can benefit from in their own way. How can I differentiate content regarding privilege in such a complex way? Further, what tension will I create between my students as I talk about privilege? Will my white students resent my minority students for my challenge of their white privilege? Will my minority students resent my white students for not immediately embracing what their privilege affords them? Do youth even care?!

I’m going to end this blog post before I rant further… These are just the things I’ve been thinking about lately!

Critiquing Whiteness as Being a Non-Thing

This post originally appeared on Samm Kitzul’s Teaching Blog.

I frequent the social media site, Reddit, quite often and while it is a great source of entertainment for me, there are also posts that make me ponder my educational worldview. One question that made the front page asked, “What is it like to be white?”. When I clicked on the link I figured that there quite possibly may be a lot of comments that fall into that “systemic racism” realm or even posted that would show an ignorance to white privilege. While I don’t at all claim to everything there is to know about white privilege, I knew that the basic understanding I had would at least allow me to critique some of the responses and be an opportunity to gain some insight into other perspectives. The insights others had to offer really humbled me. One comments that particularly stood out for me included the concept of white-ness being an almost “non-thing” compared to the culture of others. It answers the original question, “What is it like to be white” and responds:

“There’s a lack of identity associated with it.  I don’t think of myself as white any more than I think of myself as blue-eyed.  It’s a feature, not part of who I am.   There’s no real struggle to emphasize empathize with, no real connection to other white people based just on being white.  At least not that I’ve experienced, so it’s just a non-thing.

A checkbox on a form and nothing else.

Hell, it’s less of an identity thing than hairstyle, at least for me.

As for day-to-day life, it’s honestly hard to consider, since I’ve never not been white.

I guess I’m not worried about going 10 over the speed limit, since I’m no more likely to be pulled over than anyone else.  Is that a concern for minority drivers?  I honestly don’t know.”

While I’m sure there are negative and perhaps troubling aspects to this persons response, (stating that being white is “not who I am”) I find the general message quite relatable to my own experiences. I feel at times almost apathetic to my race and culture in general which perhaps is a very prime example of exactly what white privilege is at it’s core. The fact that I don’t have to think about these racial difference as being a burden on my every day life is why I am privileged, and the very fact that white-ness can be vocalized to be a “non-thing” proves this. Many times I believe people mistake white privilege as being a synonym for general privilege; that white folk who go through exceeding amounts of struggle and hardship are simply exempt from the concept of white privilege based on the fact that they have suffered comparable amounts to minority groups. Very recently there was a UofR Confessions post regarding this issue. I would professionally argue however, that white privilege is solely based on this premise of race being a “non-thing” that is not dependant on the level of hardships an individual has gone through.

On a side note however, and relating to the commenter’s thought about speeding 10kms over the speed limit, I was recently caught by a camera on the highway doing just that… Going ten clicks over. I can assure you however that since it was a camera that caught me, no racial prejudice can be blamed for the fault in my actions 😉

Thanks for reading!