Treaty Responsibility Philosophy

I am a white Canadian with settler ancestry living on Treaty 4 land. Approximately one hundred years ago, my family came from Germany and settled in Canada, mainly southern Saskatchewan. I am currently working as a Student Services Teacher in Treaty 4 Territory. I believe my treaty responsibility is to use my position as an educator and role model to educate Canadian youth about preserving the environment and building healthy relationships with Indigenous peoples. Teaching Canadian youth how to preserve the environment will allow many generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to live on Treaty 4 land with access to natural resources and the gift of a healthy environment including clean water, clean air, and lush plantation. Building healthy relationships with Indigenous peoples is the other part of my treaty philosophy. As a country, we all need to work at dissolving stereotypes and discrimination practices against Indigenous peoples. There should be equal opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in society as well as culturally appropriate healing programs for First Nations, Inuit, and some Metis peoples of Canada who are suffering the effects of Residential Schools.  

As an educator, I will include Indigenous worldviews and Treaty education into lessons of all subject areas through books, activities, and practices. My students and I will participate in field trips connected to Indigenous peoples, such as the Treaty 4 Gathering. I will also teach my students about the preservation of Treaty 4 land through land based learning, Elders, Indigenous guest speakers, and participation in Indigenous ceremonies.  One of the reasons Elders speak is to pass down stories to generations about preserving the land. When inviting Elders, Indigenous knowledge keepers, and Residential School survivors into the classroom I will follow protocol of giving the guest an offering of tobacco.  I will also teach my students the specific protocols that are to be followed when inviting Indigenous guests into the school so they understand and respect those practices.  

Some specific examples of land-based learning in math class include a nature walk to find math related ideas such as lines, numbers of trees, and shapes outside.  Another way to include Indigenous practices into the classroom is to participate in frequent talking circles using a talking stick or rock to build relationships and a sense of community in each other.  I have previously read about restorative justice in the classroom by Camila Arze Torres Goitia.  In this reading, Camila mentions the idea of “Friday Circles” in which the class creates a sharing circle where anyone in the class is welcome to speak (Goitia, 178). Usually a prompt is given but sometimes the circle is open to any discussion/ talk. This reading sparked the idea that I should include sharing circles into my own classroom to create an environment where students feel comfortable to speak, express their identity, and know they are in a judgement-free space. I could also use sharing circles to promote appropriate behaviour and solve any issues in the classroom by having students share their experiences with the issues(s) and any solutions we as a class can create to solve the issue(s). This way, the students are involved in their community and have the responsibility of finding solutions to the issues they are facing instead of solely being punished by authoritative figures such as teachers and principles. It is crucial that Canadians build healthy relationships with Indigenous people so Canada can thrive without conflict and allow for positive negotiations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. If Canadian youth are educated about Treaties, Indigenous worldviews, and land preservation, there is opportunity for reconciliation in Canada. Treaties are considered to be ongoing relationships, so my responsibility as an educator in Treaty 4 is to teach students about how treaties are a part of Canadian identity, how to improve relationships with Indigenous people, and how to take care of Treaty 4 land.