This past week I have focused on treaty education 3 out of the 7 days. I know treaty ed is important, and now I am much less intimidated by the thought of teaching it! I was given so many awesome resources and examples of how it fits right into the classroom. It really is something that is integrated into every subject, and not taught in its own lesson.
One session I attended that really hit my heart was a panel of three young high school ladies that attend Martin Collegiate. Hearing them speak about being First Nation in school really opened my eyes. One girl started crying when talking about her experience with bullying and racism. After she spoke, one of my colleagues spoke up, and it was exactly what I was thinking. She told the young ladies that there is hope, because we are getting educated, and we are going to change things. We are the first educated generation that will be able to educate the students we teach, and hopefully eradicate the racism and unfairness that these girls were talking about.
A reading assigned in ESST (http://www.ctf-fce.ca/Research-Library/ABORIGINAL-Report2010-WEB.pdf pg 40-48) reinforced the need for change. First Nation teachers are being interviewed, and they don’t say very nice things about their non-First Nation co-workers:
“The discounting of the historical oppression and colonization of Aboriginal people and the devastating effects of that history was also regarded as an example of racism. Participants said their non-Aboriginal teachers could be quite insensitive about how colonization has negatively impacted Aboriginal people, including “making jokes about what happened,” (42-1) or suggesting that whatever happened, “happened in the past, so get over it” (46-4, 49-Curriculum). One Aboriginal teacher described her non-Aboriginal colleagues “publicly mourning the removal of a residential school building, claiming that nothing bad happened there” (41-1)” p.42
I graduated high school in 2006. I took a “Native Studies” class in grade 12 because it was required, and I almost failed the class because I didn’t care. My teacher didn’t teach it from a First Nation perspective. He taught “white settler history” and I basically forgot all of it because he was falling asleep teaching it. My point is, I was uneducated about the First Nation perspective of history until I entered the Faculty of Education two years ago. My eyes have been opened, and my heart has been touched. I am not going to be one of those teachers quoted above!
Between hearing personal stories, or just seeing teachers outright passion for what they are doing for their First Nation students, I fought back tears in each and every one of the sessions I attended at Treaty Ed Camp 2.0.