I would first like to remind you of the purpose of Treaty Education. Consider another portion of history first: Germany. Would it seem appropriate to skip teaching any holocaust-related content simply because there were no students with German or Jewish backgrounds? While this might not be an identical comparison, it is similar in the content significance. The treaties, and the history of indigenous groups, are part of Canada. Some good has happened, especially recently, however we have also made many mistakes in the past. It is important for students to understand the ideas of the treaties, and what it means to them. Also, in our multicultural society, it does nothing except help further our multicultural traditions if we teach FNMI content and perspectives. For example, in the Regina area, many schools get the chance to participate in the annual Treaty 4 gathering. This allows students to experience some indigenous culture first hand, learn history in an interactive and captivating way, and it allows the FNMI culture to become more normalized within our day to day lives and multicultural society. As educators, it is our job to make this content interesting, and different year after year, covering different topics and focuses. The more informed society is about these perspectives, and treaty education in general, the more widely accepted the culture will become. This issue you are having, where students are treating Treaty Education as a joke, and even reaching the point of making racist remarks, is all part of the wider issue. This is a continuation of the poor (or a lack of) treaty education in previous grades for these students, and now you have the opportunity to do your best to reverse this prejudice they now have. It won’t be easy, you are essentially running uphill the whole way, but with effort and creativity, you can really inspire these students with this significant chunk of culture that represents part of being a Canadian.
Lastly, always remember what it means when we state “We are all treaty people”. The treaties weren’t intended to be a cold-hearted contract, the signing away of FNMI rights and property. Initially, and to this day, the foundation of the treaties is relationship. These treaties mark the unique relationship between the settlers and the indigenous population, and should represent harmony in this modern day and age. When we say we are all treaty people, it is because we are all in some way part of the treaty. These treaties are the relationship used to form the country we know and love, and thus we have to support this relationship in unity as treaty people if we are ever going to attempt reconciliation and healing. The treaties represent relationship, and thus they represent us. So always remember this responsibility we have. We are all treaty people, and this gives each of us a personal responsibility of reconciliation to fulfill. Are you ready for your turn?