As part of my classes for my three week block I have picked up a Social Studies 30 course. This past week we have been discussing the concept of standard of living and looking at the different standards across Canada . I tried to introduce this concept from the perspective of the First Nations people of Canada and my class was very confused about the topic and in many cases made some racist remarks. I have tried to reintroduce the concept but they continue to treat it as a joke.
The teachers at this school are very lax on the topic of Treaty Education as well as First Nations ways of knowing. I have asked my Coop for advice on Treaty Education and she told me that she does not see the purpose of teaching it at this school because there are no First Nations students. I was wondering if you would have any ideas of how to approach this topic with my class or if you would have any resources to recommend.
To Whom it May Concern,
I understand it can be very challenging in this type of environment especially when you feel as though you have no support. First of all I would like to say that I am thrilled to hear you are trying to incorporate First Nation lifestyle into your courses. Not many teachers are brave enough to do so in fear that they will get the same reaction as you did. I think that what you are doing is an excellent example for fellow teachers and you are setting the stage for new teachers like yourself. Most likely the reason behind their behaviours is because they have not been introduced to this topic before. The excuse that “there are no First Nations students in the school” is not a reason to keep quiet about this topic. You must make students aware of the importance Indigenous history holds to Canada and should hold to them personally. Although it is challenging, it is important that you stick to it and disregard their ignorance. At the end of the day they are still kids and those kids are your students. As teachers it is our job to get through to them and sometimes there will be obstacles like this one, but just know that getting awareness out there is the first step to making a change. I think if you tried making this lesson more interactive they may grasp onto the significance of it more. The film, We Are Children is a great representation of what Indigenous people have experienced and I think if you were to show a part of the film it may open their eyes to the reality of the world around them. Embrace the Indigenous culture and bring it to surface for these students. When their learning is solely by the book, they will not engage with it and instead brush it off as they did. I hope this can help you, I wish you all the best!
Treaty Education is just as valuable as any other education in a Canadian classroom. I am glad that as we grow, the curriculum is slowly bringing Treaty Ed to surface and incorporating it into the standard classroom. Understanding our history includes Treaty Education. We can not offer our students a bias perspective because that will not get them very far in life, instead we must teach them various ways of knowing that are not only modern, but also traditional. Our history goes so much further than our White Settler government and we must educate students if we want to break the stigmas surrounding Indigenous people. To help see our world strive, we have to embrace diversity and the only way we can do that is by educating our young students so that they can pass on what they know and go about their life with a broader more approachable perspective. The term, “We Are All Treaty People” is a great way to introduce students to our national history that includes those who were here before and during the settlement of British Colonies. We are on Treaty land and it is something that should be known to students. The only way to prevent discrimination, prejudices and stereotypes is by offering students non-bias, valuable understandings of all Canadian cultures including Indigenous cultures. We most broaden the perspectives of our young students because once a certain, ignorant mindset is instilled in their mind it is hard to break away despite the efforts we bring forth. Teaching Treaty Education from lower grades forward will prepare them for encounters they may experience. We should not have students entering university with the bare minimum knowledge of Treaty Education as some of us did, it should be something that is regularly demonstrated in the classroom. I know that once I begin teaching my own classes I will have the oppurtunity to do just that and know we are encouraging so much more education regarding Indigenous cultures and it is a step forward to a better world and a better curricula for our upcoming students.