“Now is the time for all people to come together and build a new relationship. If not, things could get a little awkward. After all, First Nations peoples are Canada’s fastest growing population and more than half of us now live in cities. It’s time to meet the neighbors.” (Wab Kinew, Indigenous in the City, 8th Fire – CBC Documentary)
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to engage in a lecture on Treaty Education with Moose Jaw teacher, Claire Kreuger. She shared with us her journey through a fairly challenging inquiry on Treaty Education, reminding us that despite any obstacles, we must never give up on teaching this topic. Through integration of technology in the classroom, her students created outstanding representations of their learning. The connections they made to their past, the present and their future really hit home for me, reminding me the importance of the relationships embedded in Treaty Education – we do not own the land, we SHARE it. Their words were inspiring, as one child claimed, “We need to own what we have done.” – a very powerful statement, for a child who was obviously not present at the signing of the treaties, yet is taking ownership for the actions of her ancestors. How can we move towards a peaceful future without mending damaged relationships?
My professor once shared her encounter with an elder where he asked: What do we do if we are studying oceans and we do not know something? We look it up. Why are we not doing this with Treaty Education?
As soon as culture is involved, it seems to automatically become a touchy subject. I often hear, ‘I don’t want to offend anyone by teaching it wrong” or “I don’t know anything about it”. As educators, we are not EXPERTS; we do not know everything there is to know about the world we live in. I believe that making mistakes alongside our students makes for authentic learning – showing our students that we too are vulnerable and learning something new everyday. That being said, our excuse should not be that we do not know anything about it. We should be realizing that making mistakes makes us human – our students will appreciate that and value the learning experiences they encounter through error.
In order to understand our place in society, we need to understand the agreements made through the treaties, as well as how we benefit from this today. We would not be living the life we have, on the land that provides us with so many opportunities if it were not for the treaties. This is valuable information that our students deserve to explore – it is part of their identity, and will be part of their future.
“As long as the sun shines, grass grows and river flows – we are all treaty people.”