Treaty education. Environmental education. How do these two things go together? When I hear the words “treaty” and “education” together, I’ll be honest and say that I get scared. I start to feel prickly and resistant like a thistle. When we went outside to do stillness and ended up sitting in a circle with Elder Joseph, I noticed a little spec of purple right by Audrey’s knee. It was a purple thistle that hadn’t been killed off by the frost yet. I didn’t ask permission, and I did it sneakily, but when we got up to go back to the classroom I snatched the flower from the thistle, and you can see it in my creative journal piece.
Thistles are resistant and strong. First Nations people have had to be resistant and strong. The Europeans may have felt like the Aboriginals were prickly like thistles, but truth be told, the Europeans were really the thistles to the Aboriginals. Despite the prickles, I am going to take a guess and say that most Aboriginal people will see the beauty in this thistle, and not the prickles. It all comes down to worldview. As an individual, I am willing to let my worldview develop and change throughout my journey, or in cree, throughout my pamepicewin. Combining treaty and environmental education should really be a piece of cake. Joseph mentioned that in the traditional songs, the words and spirit of the songs always incorporate the earth or nature. The flag song he taught us talked about the wind. The second song he gave us talked about the sun, the rocks, and the rivers. Isn’t that what environmental education is? To create in students a love of the earth that we live on, so that they can start their own journey and development of what it means to be eco-literate.
Environmental education and treaty education should easily be meshed together if I am able to see the beauty in the thistle I feel when I think about treaty education, and embrace it. I don’t think it will be hard to do, but to do it in a respectful, non-offending way when I have little knowledge may be a challenge. To add to my long list of goals as an educator, my goal is to get educated in order to educate about treaties.