Addressing First Nations Content in Schools

Consider the following questions:
1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

[If I was to respond as a professor to the student from the email, my response may perhaps go something like this:]

The difficulties you are facing are not exclusive to your situation, so rest assured that this is an issue that all Canadians are facing. You are doing the right thing in encorporating First Nations content. Your students’ disconnect is a product of colonialism; they are perpetuating the issues that they are trying to separate themselves from. Consider Dwayne Donald’s quote: “The way you think about the relationship (between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples) has a distinctive bearing on how you take it up in the classroom. …It isn’t an informational problem: If students are given a timeline of residential school history, that won’t necessarily improve relations.” Perhaps you are encorporating Aboriginal content in a way that still seperates it from other parts of your classroom curricula. After you’ve really reflected on how you are bringing Aboriginal content into your classroom, there are several resources you can consider after having really reexamined how you approach aboriginal ways of knowing in your classroom. Remember that Aboriginal ways of knowing are relevant for all Canadians.

-Take a look at David Benjoe’s Native Studies unit available at bit.ly/treatyedsessions under David Benjoe,Link. Mr. Benjoe is a professor at the First Nations university, and during Treaty Ed Camp 2016, he offered his own unit. You can possibly take things from this resource to use in your class, but keep in mind how to present it in a wholesome way.

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