1)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”?
The content and its delivery in schools comes from a colonial history. There was a specific effort put forth by the government to strengthen the European ways of thought when our country was in its early stages. The land was valuable for resources, among other things, and maintaining power in this place was necessary. In an oversimplified way, it can be said that this is the basis of our early educational content. This has changed in many ways over the generations, but the Indigenous ways of knowing that were here prior were not prioritized very greatly. Treaty Education, Indigenous ways of knowing, and FNMI content is therefore tantamount because we have a proverbial uphill battle in order to reach any semblance of equity when it comes to educational content. Therefore, it is important to teach this content for all students, especially in situations where there are no, or few, First Nations, Metis, or Inuit people. We see this content in areas such as Social Studies, but as educators become sharper with cross-curricular approaches, it can be incorporated into more subjects. We might not realize it, but the European content spreads across nearly all areas of the curriculum, and in order to decolonize our society we must start by tipping the scale in the direction of FNMI content. Many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people are aware of, and proud of, their heritage, but many people have lost that part of their identity. It is for this reason that it is important to teach FNMI content to every student.
There are aspects to the treaties that can be troubled, but it often goes unnoticed because the treaties, themselves, are seldom taught in some schools. We must not just say “sorry” and feel guilt for the colonial acts of our ancestors, we must take responsibility for the world we currently inhabit. Being treaty people means we create honest and true relationships with one another. Dwayne Donald defined colonialism as “an extended process of denying relationship”. To decolonise it to be mindful of the wrongdoings of the past, and to create and maintain valuable relationships. We are all treaty people, and we must live and breathe this fact, not just understand it intellectually. There are legal rights and obligations that are a part of the treaties, but there are also values of a harmonious relationship that must be lived by that can be instilled in our students by teaching the treaties. We must teach the history of both sides of the treaties. The land of Canada was not ceded as the Eurocentric view assumes, and to teach the troubling aspects of our history, treaties included, is important.