We Are All What!?!?

When it comes to teaching about Treaty Education or introducing First Nations perspectives, there can come a lot of resistance and stubbornness, and we see this happen in the email sent to Mike. I would be lying if I said that my class was not too dissimilar to the one described by this Education student, and we asked ourselves the question of “why is this useful?” and “why do we need to know this stuff?”. I think that the articles and videos we were asked to watch, really gave a great response to those questions, and gave me a new perspective on the importance of First Nations perspectives and what it means to be a treaty person.

To start I think Cynthia Chambers in her work “We Are All Treaty People” helps us to understand where the issues stem from when she describes her early relatives who immigrated and their ignorant ways of thinking. One quote that really stuck out to me is as follows: “for immigrants of my grandmother’s generation it was as if their adopted country had no story, or at least not one worth learning about or remembering. They acted as if the story of their new home only began with their arrival on its shores.” (p. 25) The reason this stuck out to me, was that the ignorance described in Cynthia’s text is that same one that we still hold today in our schools.

Photo Credit: Aidan Jones Flickr via Compfight cc

When asked the question of “what is the purpose of Treaty Ed?” and “what does it mean that ‘we are all treaty people’?” The answer can be found in Dwayne Donald’s presentation when he talks about the relationship that so often, teachers brush over in place of meeting the specific curricular outcome. This also relates to Claire’s Introduction video when she talk about how “we teachers impress upon students, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, who [and what] matters”. In other words, we as teachers have a say in how we look at First Nations perspectives in the curriculum. As Dwayne puts it, the way teachers have seen Treaty Ed as an “informational problem”, where if students just learn about treaties or residential schools, then they will understand the importance, when in fact, it is a relational problem between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people. Regardless of political gain or agendas, Treaties symbolize a way of building a relationship with those around us. So the more we can show our students how Treaty Education is less about calling people out on all the awful things their people have done, and more about how we can begin to repair that relationship, the more engaged I believe students will become.


Chambers, C. (2012). “We are all treaty people”: The contemporary countenance of Canadian curriculum studies. In Reconsidering Canadian curriculum studies (chapter 1). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

[ULethbridge Faculty of Education]. (2010). Dwayne Donald – On What Terms Can We Speak? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/15264558

[Michael Cappello]. (2017, September 6). ECS 210 8.2 – Claire Intro [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWY_X-ikmaw&feature=youtu.be

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