Treaty Ed Workshop was a great experience for me. It opened up my eyes to a whole new ‘world’ of knowledge! I feel embarrassed to say that nearly everything we learned that day was brand new to me! I wish I could blame the fact that my school never even attempted to educate us on First Nations culture, but I cannot. I have had the means to learn all of this on my own, but I have not yet, truth is, it never even crossed my mind. I can honestly say that I learned more about First Nations in the two days at Treaty Ed Workshop than I have in the previous 30 years!
During one of the Treaty Ed Camp Sessions, this issue kind of came up. We were asked to write a short ‘essay’ titled, “How Am I a Treaty Person?” I stated the obvious in that I currently reside on Treaty 4 land and have spent most of my life living on Treaty 2 land, but aside from that I really did not have much to say, as I did not really know how I can identify myself as a Treaty person (other than the above obvious). However I then realized the answer to the question, at least for me, is just beginning. Although I may not quite know how I am a treaty person right now, I am on the path to finding out, and I am enjoying every minute of it! This session really made me think about long term goals regarding Treaty Education and how I can incorporate into my teaching and my ‘everyday’ life.
A main question I have continually had since learning about Treaty Ed is, “How I am going to teach this?” This questions was partially answered during the first session I went to. The presenter had a little bit of an ‘off-beat’ approach that emphasized asking the ‘uncomfortable’ questions and using current events to relate back or parallel past events. His own personal method was to present this all in a very relaxed environment in which students can be open about their thoughts/feelings. He also talked about that since he is a white male, he cannot always truly relates to his First Nations students, so he finds other ways to bridge the gap. A simple but powerful example that occurred in his class was that one of his First Nations students mentioned that he always gets followed by security (even when with his mother and young sibling) whenever he goes into a store. The presenter admitted neither himself nor his wife or kid has ever had this happen to them. He simply asked the students why they thought this was so. It just really made me think about all the racial profiling and uneducated racism (whether intentional or not) that happens to First Nations every single day. Things I cannot even begin to truly understand, yet they deal with it like it is no big deal. It is really eye opening and is making me realize that even though we are all a part of this province/country, we live in completely different worlds. I think these worlds need to start to work in harmony instead of fear. Easier said than done, but I think Treaty Ed is a great starting point. I know it has already helped me!
Overall I had a great experience, albeit sometimes hard to hear, regarding not only Treaty Ed, but hearing personal stories from educators and elders on what they are doing and what I can do to make a difference!