To the person that wrote to Mike, I would ask them for more details when they say “racist remarks”. It is not good at all that the school does not teach Treaty Education simply because they don’t have First Nations students, because first of all, a treaty is between two parties. So whether they like it or not, they are part of it. Second of all, isn’t it part of the curriculum? There are many schools across the province that “omit” to teach about Treaties, I personally have met countless classmates that have told me that in their classes they never learnt it.
(The signing of Treaty 4 in 1874 between Saskatchewan’s Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada marked the beginning of a relationship that is supposed to endure endure as long as the sun shines, the rivers flow, and the grasses grow. Today, united by the agreements made in Treaty 4, we are all Treaty people. In this exhibit, see Treaty 4 presented in a rare document: Canada’s only known written record of Treaty promises from the viewpoint of the Indigenous people.)
I agree with the definition of colonialism given in the video: “an extended process of denying relationship”. It is very important that we understand that we are all Treaty people because without any knowledge of the past, we are unable to construct our future.
Many promises were broken and most of those that got kept are not very helpful (like the $5 deal, or how much is funded on First Nations reserves’ schools); so I don’t think it is something we can just hide under the table. There are some mistakes of the past that we do not want to reproduce, so we need to educate ourselves. Looking at Indigenous people’s past and where they come from (and have been through), it becomes very hard to judge them. One can easily talk about a cycle of abuse. Certain issues go in cycles, so unless we understand the root of the issue, we will never be able to break the cycle. It takes time certainly, but also tolerance and understanding. In one of my classes the professor was saying that it will take up to about 7 generations for First Nations people to start to really move on from the trauma caused throughout history. At the same time, I believe that as teachers when we explain those things to our students, it is important that we do not blame them for the mistakes of their ancestors. Many kids because of that blame would tend to shut down in front of the issue, so it is important too to know how to convey the message. Neverthless, they need to be kept aware; yes we do not blame them, but the message at least should leave them with a sense of “oh now I am more accountable, I can do things differently and do not have to repeat the same mistakes”.
(Photo credit: the Dan Kellar/Toronto Media Co-op. For more information, visit: http://april28.net.)