Teaching Treaty Ed: It’s More Than Just ‘Building Tipis’

While working a summer job in 2018, I had one of my co-workers (who is white) tell me that they were thinking of transferring their children from one school to another. When I asked why, they said: “Well, because all they do at this school is build tipis”. At the time, I knew that this comment was wrong on so many levels- however I did not feel as if I were in a position to respond. This person was a superior of mine in the workplace and who was I, a summer student, to come in and start a conversation that would surely rock the boat?

After consuming all of the information for this blog- Claire’s work, Dwayne’s’ lecture and the reading I think there is significant importance in teaching Treaty Ed in terms of creating a space for First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples voices to hold power and be heard, even if there is an absence of those bodies in the classroom. I liked when Claire pointed out that this is not an issue for Indigenous people, this is an issue for white people and somehow white people still project onto people of colour. The purpose for teaching Treaty Ed is to educate the young people of today so that they can make beneficial change for ALL Canadians in the future. Being honest and sharing the facts, just like Claire does will never hinder a student’s learning but rather help it to grow and develop into deeper understandings of other perspectives. Personally, I would tell this intern that despite how the kids react or what your coop teacher says, continue to teach about Treaty Ed in an honest and respectful way because it is our duty as teachers… and like Mike said if we aren’t doing this, then we’re not actually doing our job. The curriculum documents will back you up and serves as evidence as to why you are teaching this. Acknowledging that “we are all treaty people” means that we in fact are all in this together and it involves people of different races coming together to unite in hopes of creating a better world. It is safe to say that teaching Treaty Ed means more than just “building tipis” but honouring the relationship between Indigenous and European settler people for what it was in the past and for what it has the potential to be in the future.  Everyone has to recognize this relationship like Dwayne said, and honour it through constant work and effort- that’s where our jobs as teachers comes into play. I don’t doubt that it is challenging, maybe sometimes uncomfortable and tedious work… but it has to be done. I honestly found it a bit relieving to see a teacher like Claire doing this work with such truth and love in her practice, and I hope that someday I can do that too.

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