The purpose of teaching Treaty Education, whether your classroom has many, a few, one, or no First Nations, Metis, and/ or Inuit (FNMI) students is to help build relationships, to share history, to become connected. Our history is a huge aspect of how we live today, the relationships we have, the commonsense ideas we have, the land we live on, and it is incredibly important for all to understand our history in order to move forward and build stronger relationships. Dwayne Donald defined colonialism “as an extended process of denying relationship” with places we live, on our head and our heart, with people who look different from us in his video. “Everyone is colonized” he states, and I agree we all have biases, we all recognize our physical differences. And he explains how there is a disconnect between settlers and FNMI peoples due to our perspectives and lack of relationship from history to even now. He is challenging us to deconstruct the past we share and to face our divides in order to build relationships so we can all live together in peace with equality among us. Cynthia Chambers in her article suggests the same idea, that there is a serious disconnect between peoples and that immigrants and people today have spent too much time trying to “break with the past” in order to become modern. But we cannot just forget. We need to come together, we need to listen to each other, accept each other’s stories, and build relationships with one another.
As Chambers says, “the treaties would still be my story, and my family’s story. It is our story: the one about the commons, what was shared and what was lost.”. And I agree, it is not the FNMI’s stories versus the European settler’s stories, it is our stories together that have created the environment we live on and within today. The settlers and the FNMI peoples signed these treaties, it took two sides to make an agreement, therefore the treaties involve both parties. We need to take responsibility for our commitments to the treaties as well as the FNMI people. So, to me, “we are all treaty people” means that we share our history, we need to continue to build together, to listen to one another, in order to create our futures together in a way that all people’s opinions/ perspective/ beliefs are of equal value. The classroom is where children spend hours and hours for thirteen years of their lives and as educators it is our responsibility to help ALL children, race and culture aside, express their perspectives and learnings.
For an educator struggling for her students positive engagement in the topic of Treaty Education I think it is important for them to explain to their students that Europeans did not write history alone, nor are they superior in their beliefs today. Educators need to, as Donald challenged, bring forward the tensions of history between races instead of making it an informational problem. Educators need to dig deeper and share how our history belittled FNMI peoples and how these relationships still are being repaired today. I also like his idea of reconstructing the idea of culture, thinking of it as a verb in that “it is something you do or create” not as a racial divide. Us, educators need to be comfortable with our idea of our own relationships with FNMI peoples in order to help our students build their relationships.