Before I started back to university in 2016, I had no idea what Truth and Reconciliation was. I also had no idea what Treaty Education was or that it was supposed to be part of the curriculum in Saskatchewan. I grew up and went to school in an era where Indigenous history was part of the colonizer history. The First Nations people in that history were the criminals. I have since learned a great deal about why there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and why the Calls to Action are important. I have a better sense of why Treaty Education is so important not only for K-12 students but for student teachers as well.
The TRC Calls to Action, have specific actions aimed toward education. As an elementary school teacher, I probably can not directly impact the funding that goes toward First Nations education. However, I can respond to certain calls to action at a classroom level. I can make what I teach culturally relevant by including books, materials, music, displays that showcase First Nations ways of life. I also can teach the true history, not just the colonizer viewpoint, I also feel that it is important to include parents and elders and invite them to share about their cultural practices. I feel that it is more authentic to hear from someone who lives the culture rather than someone who has just read about it. I feel very under qualified to even begin to teaching about Truth and Reconciliation or Treaty Ed.
The more I learn about Treaty Education and the TRC Calls to Action, the more I want to be really good at having Treaty Ed. be part of my everyday in the classroom, in every subject. It shouldn’t be just a Social Studies unit and call it a day.Although starting with a Social Studies lesson for a first time isn’t a bad thing. I thought my very first attempt at teaching a Treaty Education lesson went very well. The students were engaged and I had so much fun teaching it.
I am searching and trying to figure out how to make Treaty Ed. meaningful for myself and my students. Part of my search is Indigenous spiritual beliefs and what is considered sacred in those beliefs. It is as important to me that I know what is sacred and what I should not be teaching about, as it is what I should and can teach about. I will continue my search by attending Treaty Ed Camps, taking classes such as Treaties in the Classroom, and listening to people like Pam Palmater, Erica Violet Lee and Chelsea Vowel. I also think that I need to seek out teacher’s who do Treaty Ed well, I know they are out there, I just have to find them.
Even though I feel under qualified, and still searching I know that I don’t want students hearing that we are talking about treaties or Indigenous history and having a bad attitude about it. I also believe that if we teach our young children about the true history of Canada and Treaties, that we can slowly change attitudes and eventually have more allies than detractors. I hope by time I finish my internship and ready to tackle a classroom on my own, that I have found the entrance to my path to great Treaty Ed in the classroom.