I have definitely learned a lot and have been exposed to many new understandings and perspectives throughout my journey in treaty education; however, I feel there is still much I need to learn and explore.
For me to feel confident in meeting the treaty education mandate, I would like to know of more assignments and learning opportunities that are currently being done is schools. I agree that treaty education needs to be incorporated and intertwined within our everyday teachings, but I feel most of my learning on this topic has been “fluff” in the sense that this overall idea is repeatedly represented and we discuss its value, but what’s missing for my growth as an educator is actual ways treaty ed has been brought into classrooms, and concrete ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely taken a lot of valuable learning opportunities away throughout my time in this program, but as the conversation continues, I find there are just less examples and evidence of it being used in the classroom, which makes me feel as though I am not prepared as I should be! I have all sorts of ideas running all over my mind, but I need a way to put them all into place. I know the importance of treaty ed, and I totally value it. However, because of this I just do not have the confidence I need to meet the treaty education mandate. Its getting there, I just feel that with the more I learn the more I realize how much I do not know.
One of the biggest barriers I am facing is that I have no personal ties to Inuit culture, which I feel makes it a barrier to teach about. I have a friend who taught in Nunavut for a year, and his experience was hard, yet educational, in the sense that there are many different kinds of issues with aboriginal cultures in the environment, little of which I have ever learned about. When we describe aboriginal peoples of Canada, we always describe them the categories of Metis, First Nations, and Inuit, which makes them appear to be of all equal importance, but when you look into it, there is wayyyyy more information present on First Nations cultures than Inuit. I understand the population is smaller and the Inuit communities are often more isolated, which therefore makes it more challenging to gain as many resources, but I feel that this is a problem that goes far beyond just educational means. The issues and lack of knowledge about Northern Aboriginal communities is systematic; it ingrained in our Canadian societal ways. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, I just feel more need to be done to make support and make sure Inuit voices are being heard.
To continue to prepare myself for teaching treaty education, I want to engage in more personal experiences, such as talks with Elders, pipes ceremonies, feasts, powwows etc. My experiences with these in the past have by far been the most meaningful and memorable part of my journey into treaty education. What makes me truly desire to ensure my students understand the history and effects of residential schools is not because we’ve discussed it in classes, it’s because I’ve talked to elders and they’ve shared their personal experiences and memories and pain with me. I will never be able to forget that; those conversations will truly stick with me for a lifetime, and I am incredibly motivated to allow opportunities for my students to have these experiences and valuable life moments. I believe this is the greatest way they can learn.