To Whom it May Concern,
To me, it sounds like your school is stuck within the “Western Settler” ideology, not wanting to remove their lenses of privilege. I am saying this, as a white settler myself, as in my own high school there was a limited Indigenous population as well; therefore, Treaty Education was sometimes put on the backburner. Not all educators have gained knowledge about Indigenous ways of life and the Treaties; therefore, they might not understand how both Indigenous, and non-Indigenous peoples alike are all Treaty people. I question whether your teacher was of the older generation, and therefore the push for Treaty Education was implemented midway throughout her career? Either way, good for you that you have persisted in teaching your students with an Indigenous worldview. I agree with how Sheena Koops explains teaching Indigenous content, as she states how it is okay to make mistakes. At Treaty Education Camp, she explained how, as educators, we must, “Go forth and be awkward.” I believe that in education, if we do not take risks, we will not grow in our learning and inclusivity, and neither will our students.
In terms of the student’s overt racism in the classroom around Indigenous content, they haven’t been educated on such learnings; therefore, they don’t have enough knowledge to form understanding, connections, and empathy. Dwayne Donald spoke of how these students are otherwise known as, “Canadian Canadians.” He explains how they cannot connect to cultures outside of their own as they see their own cultural identity as being uninteresting and lacking a sense of pride. I agree with Donald that we have to begin unlearning this concept as it separates diverse cultures, creating the label of “other”. Through engaging students in frequent Treaty Education, and important issues such as racism and stereotyping, they will eventually internalize their role as Treaty people. Claire Kreuger spoke of the impact that the Treaty Four gathering, in Fort Qu’appelle, had for her students as it was an active, outdoors, hands-on learning experience. It is one thing to read about Treaty Education in a textbook, but it takes on a whole other dimension when you experience it through the senses: physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and academically.
Throughout your three week block, you will learn many important lessons from your co-op teacher; however, I also believe that if she is open minded, she can, and will, learn from you. As a new generation of educators, we are equipped with the knowledge of strategies to teach Treaty Education and, if we incorporate elders into the classroom we can gain an authentic understanding. Even though there are not Indigenous students within your school, I believe that we are doing the youth of tomorrow an injustice if we skip Treaty and Indigenous education; we are not fulfilling our duty as inclusive teachers. To work towards Truth and Reconciliation, as well as honouring the treaties, we must share our knowledge, and always strive to learn more.