The title is a quote from Frank Weasel Head, a Blackfoot spiritual leader and holder of many transferred rights (Chambers, 29, 30).
The Treaties are for me, too.
Whether I’m from European descent and I don’t think it impacts me, whether I’m racist and don’t want it to impact me, whether I’m truly looking to support Aboriginals and don’t know how . . .
The Treaties would still be for me, “as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow.”
But will the rivers flow free for much longer if we keep depreciating the land? Our classrooms need Treaty Education. This is for a few reasons.
First, most everyone who lives in Canada lives on Treaty land, except for those on the Western half of British Columbia and Northwest Territories, the Northern tracts of Quebec and Labrador, as well as Nunavut and north. This First Nations and Inuit land was shared with the British Crown. Knowing which Treaty we live in can give us a better sense of history and identity, whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal.
Secondly, we need to learn from Indigenous traditional knowledge. The First Nations and Inuit have been here for thousands of years and were keeping the wilds of North America in an Edenesque state (before the Europeans decided to “enhance” it with civilization). Our industrial, consumeristic ways are fast killing flora and fauna of the North.
Thirdly, we need to foster a dialectic approach to Canadian identity. White, British government has had their say on what is “important” history for more than a century. It is now time to open the book of truth that is real history, to uncover the ancestry of the land and the people, whether it be gruesome or hopeful.
Treaty Education helps us to start those dialectics.
Our curriculum shows the true colours of society. It blows the dust off of old ideas that are brought once again to waiting students and removes the tarp from past machinations of tradition, showing us how to begin in knowledge passed down from our ancestors. It can do these things, but unless it helps us live in the troubles of today, it cannot pull the wool off of our eyes. If we truly believe that “we are all Treaty people,” we will learn not only about the true history of Treaties and the changing face of this land, but about ourselves and our neighbours too. Our curriculum shows the true colours of society.
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain;
And drinking largely sobers us again.”
Chambers, C. (2012). “We are all treaty people”: The Contemporary Countenance of Canadian Curriculum Studies. In N. Ng-A-Fook & J. Rottman (Eds.) Reconsidering Canadian Curriculum Studies: Provoking Historical, Present, and Future Perspectives (pp. 23-38). NY: Palgrave MacMillan.
Featured Image: The Exit by Samy Charnine