The Importance of Treaty Education

Today, in ECS 210 we had a guest presenter, a teacher from Moose Jaw, come talk to us about the importance of Treaty Education. She outlined some of the shortcomings of Treaty Education in the average saskatchewan classroom and shared some of the things she was doing in her own classroom to teach the history of the Treaties, and told us the journey she had been on, and the mistakes she’d made to get to the approach she’s using now. 

This was a defining lecture for me, in that it helped answer a lot of questions about Treaty Education. Throughout my time in the education program at the UofR we’d always been told that we were required by law to teach the Treaties. Up until now I honestly never understood what that meant though, due to the fact that I never really was exposed to Treaty Education. 

One of the flaw in Treaty Education that Claire Kreuger pointed out is that many teachers don’t have a lot of knowledge on the topic, which can lead to inaccurate instruction. She said she had been teaching that First Nations People gave the land of Canada to the government through the treaties. The aboriginal elder advising her on her curriculum informed her that First Nations did not agree to give the land away but to share it. Little points of detail like that greatly impact our perception of history, and the treaties, and which means a convoluted understanding gets taught in schools. 

Claire Kreuger’s presentation opened my eyes up to the daunting responsibility we have as teachers to teach the Treaties. I think she exemplified how serious we need to take this responsibility when she constantly consulted a First Nations Elder for feedback. Perhaps as teachers we need to take the same kind of initiation to ensure that we are conveying an accurate depiction of the history of the treaties.

I also think her methods were really cool and served more purpose than one. I love how she started a twitter account for her class as a way to network with other classrooms to see what they were doing for treaty education, and it was also an opportunity to teach about internet safety.  Furthermore, it seemed like the inquiry based approach she was taking was a great way for the students to get the most out of their education. For example one of the assignments she had them do was to research an event in First Nations history and they had to recreate the event by making a stop motion video. An excellent way to learn, and present what they learned, while also sharpening their creative and team works skills.

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