“We are all Treaty people.” That’s been a common refrain heard across Canada in the past decade. But what does it mean, and how should teachers explain this concept to students?
I know as a recent graduate from the Education Faculty at the University of Winnipeg, Aboriginal Education and Education for Sustainability are top priorities in the field.
Thumbs up to the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM), in collaboration with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Manitoba Education and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, who have made a commitment to work together to increase the knowledge and understanding of Treaties and the Treaty Relationship for all students in Manitoba.
The Treaty Education Initiative team presents to teachers all over Manitoba with upcoming dates in Thompson, Cranberry Portage and the Interlake.
Here in Winnipeg, teachers from River East Transcona, St. James and Seven Oaks School Divisions gathered for a two day intensive on January 15 and 16 at the Wayfinders Program Centre.
On completion of the training, each teacher received a Tupperware bin full of resources to help us seamlessly integrate Treaty Teachings into the Manitoba Curriculum for students from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve.
We also have access to a TRCM Speakers Bureau which provides to our students the authentic voice of Elders and academics. This roster includes members of the Indigenous community, such as Elder Dave Courchene from Turtle Lodge at Sagkeeng First Nation and local educator and activist, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair.
“Doing treaty” is a living relationship. Elder Harry Bone understands the Treaties to mean, coming together and agreeing.
Elder Bone feels learning about the ongoing relevance of the treaties will help give young people a sense of purpose.
According to high school history teacher and presenter, Connie Wyatt Anderson, teaching about Treaties is based on four things: history, tradition, relationships and the Treaties themselves.
In our public school experience, history has often been presented from the perspective of the Crown, and the federal government.
The material provided in these teacher kits have been carefully vetted and enriched by the contributions of Indigenous elders, educators and chiefs.
In our breakout sessions, lesson plans were demonstrated. Doing treaty means to work together. Early years hands on activities, modelled for us by M.J. McCarron, were fun and fostered community.
Ms. McCarron visits the classroom, to support teachers implementing Treaty curriculum.
After our two day workshop, the teachers and presenters were invigorated, inspired and encouraged. There was a sense among us that Treaty Education has been long overdue.
Roley J. Leyson, grade six teacher at H.C. Avery School said, “I’m born and raised in Manitoba and I think it’s important to know where I come from in order to know where we can go as a country.”
Reflecting upon our experience of the Treaty Education Initiative, Christine McNulty, grade four/five teacher at Forest Park School, said it is important “to enlighten students of the Aboriginal culture and their understanding of the Treaties, and how it affects them today and in the future.”