Happy Medium Teaching Spaces!

How can we all be treaty people when only certain people gain treaty status?  This question has been troubling me ever since I have learnt ‘we are all treaty people’.  I now do believe we are all treaty people, but if you would have asked me this a year ago I would have argued otherwise.  What really cleared a lot up for me was when Grant stated in his presentation, “Treaty people, and First Nations terms are not interchangeable”.  I completely agree with this statement because First Nations Peoples refers to numerous people such as Ojibiway, Dene, Blackfoot, and much more; whereas, treaty people is all of us who essentially benefit from treaties because they mark the sharing of land.  I previously did not know this and I think that is why most people do not believe we are all treaty people either.  Based on my lived experience (before university) treaty people to me were people who had a treaty card, and because I never wanted to offend anyone I never dared called anyone a treaty person because that was racist.  I believe many people still believe this, and why shouldn’t they?  Giving treaty cards to certain people further segregates us all from being treaty people.  I do fully believe that people should still have their rights that associate with their identity, but I believe these rights should fall under “First Nations peoples’ rights” instead of “Treaty rights” and furthermore specifically they should be addressed to a person’s cultural identity.  How can we all be treaty people if only some of us are eligible for a treaty card?  It doesn’t make sense and I think that is because we are interchanging the terms First Nations and Treaty people so frequently that their differences are fading.  Therefore, in most cases First Nations and Treaty people are considered the ‘same’, when in fact they have separate value.  As Grant mentioned in his presentation these terms aren’t the same and this is why many problems exist.  As teachers I believe it is our duty to educate and provide people with knowledge to further understand each term, and also to understand the links between treaty education and the SK curriculum instead of focusing on differentiation.  By doing so we can eliminate self and other in the classroom; however, educators need to be aware of how this is done.  I believe teaching treaty education is very complicated, frustrating, and complex.  Some days I’m scared brainless to approach treaty education.  This is why I think Grant has a good point about finding the ‘happy medium teaching space’ between lived experience and standard curriculum requirements.  We cannot go about teaching treaty education by simply upholding the standard treaty education requirements and thinking we have done a good job.  Whether we want to admit it or not and regardless of how limited, all students (even elementary students) have a concept of race and knowledge of treaty education.  Society gives us our own perception which creates our lived experience.  Addressing lived experiences of treaty education, and tying them to the mandated outcomes and indicators, provides a fruitful experience for both students and teachers.  Treaty education is all around us and for some reason when it is involved in the classroom it is most often in a bubble.  However, I do not blame educators for doing so because treaty education is a controversial subject area where we fear making unintentional politically incorrect mistakes.  Despite this fear, we as educators can push past mistakes and learn from them to create social change.  It all starts with one person & that person is you!

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