In response to the email from an intern asking for help with Treaty Education,
Thank you for reaching out to me. I first want to start off by saying that I am sorry that this has been your experience so far. As you know, Treaty Education is an important part of the curriculum, as well as an important part of reconciliation, and is something that needs to be taught to students. In regard to there being “no First Nations students” in your school, I would invite the teachers at the school to consider that we are all treaty people in Canada.
In teaching students that “we are all treaty people,” we teach the students that treaties are part of all of our histories, our identities, and where we live. When we teach Treaty Education, we are owning the history of Canada, which has played a crucial role in who we all are and where we live in the present. Talking about treaties and being treaty people is about relationships, identity, who lives here, and who this is home to; all of which includes all students, not just Indigenous peoples.
With saying that, here is some advice that I would have for you moving forward in your internship:
- Find out where the students are at presently with their Treaty Education knowledge. It is important to start where they are at, even if it means that you need to reteach something so everyone is on the same page.
- Identify that being a settler is not a negative thing. It is your relationship with how you came to be here. This may help some of the push back that it sounds like you are getting.
- Be real and honest about what happened in the past and what is still happening today. It may not be pretty, but the students need to know the realness.
- It’s okay to be wrong and make mistakes. This is where the best learning comes from.
- Invite the parents to the learning. For examples, send weekly emails about the content that you will be covering, express how the topics relate to the curriculum, invite parents to discuss the ideas further at home, and send articles that you will be looking at in class. In this way, we can educate the whole family on ideas they may not be familiar with, as well as by doing this, we can make the learning accessible to the parents too.
- Link the curriculum to other subjects such as social studies and ELA when you can. These subjects mesh well together.
I hope this helps, please feel free to contact me again to discuss this further if need be.
Thank you, and keep up the good work,