One of the biggest issues facing Saskatchewan teachers is teaching treaty education. It’s ironic how something so embedded in the birth of a nation and so crucial to Canadian history, can be so difficult to teach. In an effort to aid future and practicing teachers in the task of covering this tricky subject, the University of Regina hosted the third annual TreatyEdCamp. This all day event is put on in an effort to end the stigma that comes with treaty education.
In the morning, keynote speaker Charlene Bearhead took the stage. She spoke of her life’s work concerning Aboriginal rights and treaty education. She also gave attendees the skills to educate children, parents, and grandparents of these children. She didn’t always boast about the success of her methods. She also took time to outline her missteps; such as when she couldn’t reach every single heart in the room, and times when she couldn’t find a way to change a heavily rooted opinion. Charlene humanized herself in the most humble of ways, and reminded all of us that no matter successes we achieve in life, we are all somebody’s mother, or brother, community member, and most of all we are ourselves.
The many diverse options that were provided for the sessions left me struggling to choose, as each covered a different area within the classroom. I ultimately chose to attend “How to Resist the Resistance to Teaching Treaty Education”. The overly full room of eager students excited me. Not only was I surrounded by students in the same stage of their careers as me, but the information that the presenter Brooke gave, was extremely helpful. She shared her struggles through university, her internship, and her first teaching contract. Although her admissions of absolute stress and defeat when challenged with teaching Treaty Education did not make the process appealing, it allowed me to feel comfortable as I am constantly learning new things everyday.
The second session I attended was “White Allies”. It is here that we discussed the low expectations of white people concerning minoritized matters. All too often, a white person just has to show up to an event, or post a heartfelt comment on facebook and they will be patted on the back. Mike, who was hosting this event, told us his story of how he earned the effortless title – white ally, and the outrage he felt upon examining his lack of effort. Upon sharing his feelings on how minority communities have low expectations of white people, he received a response from his Aboriginal friend that resonates with me, “Don’t think we don’t.” What he says is that he does have high expectations, and others that belong to minority groups do expect more of white people. What I took away from this was that having a title of a white ally and acting like a white ally are two separate things.
I have gained plenty of new information from this camp. I learned how to reason with people who resist teaching treaty education, how to listen responsibly to keynote speakers, and how to look deeper into the praise that I receive. I enjoyed this day very much, and cannot wait to learn more information relevant to my future profession when I attend next year’s TreatyEdCamp.