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Embracing the Concept that "We Are All Treaty People" in Your Classroom

Rachel Mishenene and Valerie Dugale

As a result of the Truth and Reconciliation process, Canada is experiencing a sea-change in culture and understanding of the important place of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples within our country. In line with recommendations from the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report to make age-appropriate curriculum on Aboriginal issues mandatory from Kindergarten to Grade 12, the Ontario government has designated November 6-12, 2016 Treaties Recognition Week.

This is an ideal opportunity to bring an understanding of treaties and treaty relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to classroom discussions. 

An insightful article by Tara Williamson of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation makes the point that these treaties between two nations – the Indigenous peoples of North America and our government, the Crown — are treaties that involve the people of two nations, hence the title of her article "We Are All Treaty People" (You can read the article here). 

Treaties and agreements that have been made or are being made with the original inhabitants are living documents. As Canadians, we have an obligation to these treaties. Indigenous peoples are also at the forefront of protecting the natural environment, climate control, water quality and rights.  We are seeing more and more allies stand with Aboriginal peoples to fight for justice in such places as Grassy Narrows and Standing Rock.

Understanding treaties is part of our collective journey in learning about our nation’s history and our obligations to the treaty agreements that were made in written and oral forms. You can explore this issue as part of your classroom teachings by accessing a host of treaty classroom resources, videos, history and facts and modern day treaties compiled by ETFO here. ETFO’s spirithorse.ca website also provides a number of other First Nations, Métis and Inuit resources for ETFO members.

ETFO has embraced the concept that “We are all Treaty People." We hope you will too.

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Emily Chan and Maria Hupfield

Emily Chan writes about how she collaborated with Indigenous artist Maria Hupfield and Jumblies Theatre to teach her students about treaties and Canada’s aboriginal and settler history.