How could treaty education (truth, justice, reconciliation, decolonization, indigenization) look like in your classrooms, schools, homes & communities? What did the Treaty invitational event teach you about this important endeavour?
This is definitely can be something hard to imagine creating in a classroom for me when I feel like I have not yet have had an experience where I could call a classroom my own. I think that treaty education will look like and feel like it is a part of the classroom and a part of every discussion and teaching. I definitely do not think that I am doing my part in treaty education and reconciliation if I implement these learnings separately from the content I already plan on teaching through the curriculum. I see this as being a fluid part of my classroom that is combined and intertwined with the curriculum to get students to not think “oh we are learning and talking about Indigenous things right now”, but in a way that we are always involving an Indigenous perspective and thinking in the way we teach and learn. I do not want treaty education to stick out like a sore thumb in my classroom.
As per the home and community, I think that exposing your family and friends to treaty education is powerful. I am personally bringing up Indigenous ideas and discussions in my home and trying to educate others on knowing that Indigenous people have different understandings and it goes way back to before white people came to North America. I am learning about the different interpretations and understandings of Indigenous people and it is definitely opening up my eyes as to why their actions and words are sometimes so much different than mine is. Honestly, I think that sharing the education that you receive is important and also it is very important to invite others to listen to an Indigenous person which makes the knowledge stick.
The treaty invitational has taught me that maybe people are a little scared and embarrassed about what they think they know about Indigenous peoples. I definitely feel better about teaching treaty education after this event because people were definitely here to learn and were engaged in what I had to say which gave me the confidence to truly incorporate treaty education in my everyday teachings. I think that most of all treaty education looks like people coming together with no judgement and open minds to take in the valuable information they have missed out on.
I think that during this course I will be able to engage in miskâsowin by participating in the important conversations we are having and asking questions. I think that contributing in the circles we have in class will benefit me in finding out more about myself and asking myself questions I may not have.
Some things I will do to help to continue to find my sense of origin and belonging/ center is to ask more questions about my family history, continue to understand more of how I am a treaty person and to find where I belong in all of this. I think that it is important to first know who you are and to know where you came from. For me, this does impact the way I may want to live out my life and how my ancestors played a role in the process of making Canada. It is also very important to me to understand and know about Treaty 4 and what that means for me as a white settler. Right now I am continuing to grow my knowledge on both of these topics. I feel like this is a long journey and there is something I can always learn to help me find my center. I think that this does not mean that miskasowin will always be out of reach for me, but rather that I can find it and I can always work on bettering myself and where I belong. Things change and so can this (to some degree).
The Blanket Exercise we did in class has offered me a visual and a reality check that was impactful in terms of my miskasowin process. The exercise helped me understand that my ancestors took away land from Indigenous peoples and it impacted them greatly. I do not believe or know that my ancestors had the intentions to impact the Indigenous peoples in this way but regardless of intention, there was a large negative impact resulting from their’s and many other’s settlements. This was important for me to see and be apart of because it left me with an image that helps me remember what has happened. I think that this exercise helps towards tapwewin by just what I have said, whether or not people had the intentions to do these things to Indigenous people, it has happened and we need to acknowledge this and begin to share the truth. I believe that it is important to speak your truth, but when you start making assumptions about others and try to speak their truth it becomes wrong. It is important that we show respect to others and their truths and that everyone speaks for themselves. I think that in the next 5 weeks I will begin to seek out my own truth and where/when there are times that I need to look towards someone else for their tapwewin.
Who do I think I am?
I am a white settler Canadian that lives on Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan. Like Chelsey Vowel has said in her book, the word “White” seems to bring up arguments and I agree. Today people are overly sensitive to be called White because people feel that is racist, but I understand what White means and am not offended to be called or call myself White because, in fact, I am. I am also a settler because my ancestors came and settled in Canada. I think this is a term that more people with similar ancestral situations as I should refer them to as. I like how Chelsey Vowel has explained what the word settler means, “a relational term, rather than a racial category…” (pg 18). I think that it is important to inform people what they term setter means and that it revolves around the relationship of Indigenous people of Canada and European settlers.
My ancestors are from Poland, Ukraine and Russia for the most part. My father’s grandparents came straight from Poland and my mother’s grandparents came from Russia. An interesting point I like to make is that my mother’s ancestors are known as Doukhobors who came from Russia and settled in Western Canada. They were known as a radical group who first gathered in the town of Veregin, Saskatchewan and sort of were pushed out further west into British Columbia. Veregin is only a 5-minute drive from where I grew up, so even though some Doukhobors were pushed from their homes for being radical, some decided to conform in some way and remain in the area.
My father’s ancestors moved from Poland and settled in Saskatchewan a few kilometres south-west from a town called Kamsack. They had farmland, had children and raised them there. My grandpa (one of their children) grew up to have his own farm only a few kilometres away from the land he grew up on. To this day we still have the farm and we value it as a piece of our family history.
My great-grandparents both moved to Canada in the early 1900s in hopes of a better life and new opportunities. They all settled in close proximity of Kamsack, Saskatchewan where I grew up.
I would have to say that the town I grew up in was very racist and that was seen as the norm. There is a large First Nation population as there are three reserves nearby. My family, I would have to say, saw racism as the norm too and there were hints of it in almost every conversation. I definitely grew up with a negative mindset towards First Nations peoples until when I was in grade 11. This past year I have done a lot of growth with calling out my own racist and critical thoughts against indigenous peoples and have been asking myself where these thoughts are coming from. This has been very important to me as Treaty education is something I want to be fluid and apart of my teachings and everyday life.
I think that my relation to Treaty is that my ancestors were apart of some of the conflicts and that I am connected to that by them. I know that it is not directly my fault for the troubles Indigenous people have faced, but I do feel like it is my responsibility to support First Nations people and help make sure that they are being heard. This does not mean going out and teaching Canadians about Indigenous peoples and Treaties with no guidance or reference from Indigenous peoples. I want to support these people and promote them and their words/stories, not my own thoughts about what I think needs to be heard. I think that this would be apart of my Miskâsowin: knowing where I came from, who my ancestors were and supporting and help promitng the words of Indigenous people and making sure that Canada is listening to these people.