My Treaty Ed Camp experience over the three days was very educational. Not only was my confidence in teaching treaty education increased, but I also gained a variety of perspectives from people who have been affected in numerous ways since the signing of the treaties, which helped further grow my understanding and appreciation of treaty education.
I was incredibly touched by listening to Gladys, one of the Elders, share her stories and history around treaties and residential schools. My time spent with her was very unique and it affected me most significantly. I have heard information about some of the awful events that have taken place in residential schools, but Gladys was the first one who opened up to our group and in detail described some of her own personal experiences and events that she faced. Before this, I had not personally heard any specific stories about situations that occurred in residential schools, so to have the chance to sit down and listen to her explain her past to us was extremely moving. It allowed me to gain a whole new perspective about residential schools and the events that occurred, and provided me with a personal connection to the past.
Additionally, Gladys also explained why the effects of residential schools are still present within society today, and how it is an issue that still needs to be addressed. She talked about the emotional, mental, and physical battles she and her siblings faced after residential schools, and how their experiences not only directly impacted them, but their children and grandchildren too, and are still evidently felt by many in our current society. Since residential schools have not been around since 1996, many people believe that the issues around them are in the past and are not relevant to the problems that some First Nations people deal with today—an extremely misguided thought process. Therefore, I felt that Gladys’ explanation on why all generations of her family are still affected by these experiences really allowed me to gain more insightful perspectives on the hardships some First Nations people struggle with, such as alcohol and drug addictions, as a result of the horrible events that happened in the past. Her knowledge has better prepared me to deal with questions students/parents may have about why residential schools, treaties, and their effects are still tremendously relevant today, and I believe that teaching the past and present effects will be beneficial to growing my future student’s understandings on this history.
Furthermore, I attended a session lead by James McNinch on two-spirited peoples and gender and sexual diversity within First Nations cultures. Wow was it incredible! It was great to learn many traditional perspectives on two-spirited peoples in Indigenous cultures, and how they are viewed as a powerful and special gift from the creator—a belief that opposes a widely accepted view in society today. McNinch also talked about the importance of having two-spirited role models in the classroom, which is an idea that I had never considered before but am now looking forward to including in my future teachings. He also briefly talked about role models that are present in our Canadian and Saskatchewan environments and provided us with useful resources that further explore and share information on this topic. This session not only allowed me to grow in my own professional development, but I now feel I have the tools I need to successfully teach and discuss the topic with my future students.
Overall, I learned endless amounts of valuable information at the Treaty Ed Camps, and I look forward to implementing my newly gained knowledge into my future classrooms!