- 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”?
Claire says it best. In her conversation with Mike, she explains that she considers Treaty Education to be, essentially, “Settler Education”. Many people in Saskatchewan are ignorant of treaties. Now that Treaty Education is mandatory, teachers are responsible for ensuring that future generations of Saskatchewan citizens are aware that we – all of us here in the province – are treaty people. This is the “Settler Education” Claire refers to. For many generations it has been possible for non-Indigenous Saskatchewan residents to remain ignorant of treaties. From now on, that shouldn’t be possible. The responsibility to ensure that is ours (future teachers).
Teaching FNMI content and perspectives is vitally important. The reality we live in, here in Saskatchewan, is socially constructed on land that was obtained violently, coercively and through promises that were broken. The history of human beings on this land is long. The people indigenous to it developed knowledge over the thousands of years they’ve been here. We are fortunate that knowledge still exists, despite persistent governmental efforts to extinguish it. It is the knowledge Cynthia Chambers refers to in “We Are All Treaty People,” a “phenomenological knowledge, based on lived experience, wayfinding and dwelling in places that sustain you,” (33) which is an idea she attributes to Ingold. She explains that Indigenous cultural practices are expressions of that knowledge, “acquired through the senses” (33). We are responsible for sharing this knowledge with our students. I recently wrote a paper on Indigenizing social studies. I learned plenty while researching that paper. Among the most important things I learned is this: that, as teachers, we will be responsible for answering Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 63(iii), which calls on the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) to “[build] student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect”. Indigenization of education is the one of the best ways to meet this goal; it requires the regular integration of FNMI content into all classrooms – including classrooms with few Indigenous students or none at all. Our settler reality has existed here for only a small blip of time compared to the long histories of Indigenous peoples. Cynthia Chambers alludes to these differences (in time frames) when she discusses the concepts of “newcomer” (28) and “old-timer” (28). In traditional stories of the Blackfoot and Dene, she writes, these terms denoted, respectively, humans and animals. In the treaties, the newcomers are settlers and the old-timers are Indigenous peoples. The treaties bind us (non-Indigenous Canadians) to that longer history – but not in the same way Indigenous people are bound to it. We should respect that difference and respect the knowledge their communities have gained from their unique relationships with the land that date back thousands of years. Treaties help us understand our respective relationships to the land and to each other. “We are all treaty people” and we all deserve to know what that means. Helping students understand will be our responsibility.