This past Saturday, our ECS 110 class attended Treaty Ed Camp. It was an overall great experience for future educators, as well as those already teaching or working in schools, and provided a great amount of insight and new knowledge for me personally about treaty education in Saskatchewan. The day started off with a pipe ceremony, which I was unable to attend, an opening blessing, and a keynote speaker.The keynote speaker for the event was Charlene Bearhead, an indigenous woman from Alberta. She also made sure to mention to us that she was both a mother and a grandmother. Throughout her speech, she discussed a couple main topics including who treaty people were, and the current state and possible future of treaty education in Saskatchewan.
She told us that we were all treaty people. This was something that I never thought about. I never considered that I would be a treaty person, I thought that only Indigenous people were considered treaty people. However, if you think about it, it is quite obvious that, because we live on this land, Treaty 4, we are benefiting from the treaty and are therefore treaty people. Of course, it is important to recognize that as a white person I benefit from the treaty in a completely different way. As a result of the benefits that I have through treaty, I am never required to actually step back and look at the privilege I have. It is simply the water I swim in and I think that’s why it took me so long to really understand what being a treaty person meant.
Mrs Bearhead also spoke to us about treaty education in Saskatchewan, the lack of it really. Saskatchewan is actually one of the provinces that are supposed to be more progressive in terms of treaty education which is something that I was very surprised about. I used to live in Alberta and, maybe it’s because I was young, but I didn’t really notice a difference in the treaty education provided between my school there and my new school in Saskatchewan. In Alberta, we had whole days that were dedicated to teaching us kids about Indigenous culture and the treaties. This might have been something that just my school did, but I feel that this small bit of treaty ed. early on in my life benefited me immensely. This was actually something the Mrs Bearhead mentioned, it is easier to teach young children about treaty ed. and expose them to the issues that Indigenous people in Canada are facing rather than trying to teach someone who has already solidified their views, no matter how terrible they are.
After breaking off after the keynote for our different sessions, I attended an open discussion about Treaty 4 representation on Treaty 4 land. One of the women in our discussion group recalled how she had been to a football game and saw the Canadian, Saskatchewan, and Regina flags flying in the stadium, but no Treaty 4 flag. In fact, there is little to no indication that we are on Treaty 4 land in any public spaces here, especially in Regina. My biggest takeaway from this discussion is that there is simply not enough recognition of the treaty in this area and the only way to fix this is to educate as many people as we can.
As a future teacher, this experience has been very helpful in opening my mind up to why we need to continue growing our treaty education in schools, not only in Saskatchewan but all over Canada. I will continue to educate myself on indigenous struggles, past, presemt, and future, and with this education I hope that I can educate those around me in every environment I am put in.