The Government of Saskatchewan and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) have established the We Are All Treaty People project to incorporate the teaching of Treaties from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in all provincial and First Nations schools in Saskatchewan.
The teaching of Treaties became mandatory in Saskatchewan schools in 2008; however, teachers had not been trained in this area and few educational resources existed at the time. In response, the Government of Saskatchewan and the OTC established a Teaching Treaties in the Classroom training program in which existing teachers receive training in First Nations Ways of Knowing and the History of Treaty Making. Furthermore, the OTC and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education are working together to create a renewed curriculum for all subjects from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
The We Are All Treaty People Best Practice is a 'train the trainer' program in which practicing teachers volunteer to pilot the renewed curriculum and provide valuable feedback that has been vetted at several different tables. This army of trainers then takes the workshop formats back to their respective schools and school divisions to disseminate the information to their peers. This is an effective way to broaden capacity within educational systems.
A first in Canada! When Premier Brad Wall announced in 2008 that Treaty education was to become mandatory for all grades in all schools in Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) responded that this was not a reasonable expectation, because universities had never taught Treaties in their teacher training programs, and there were little to no resources for the teaching of Treaties. This initiated discussions with the OTC to resolve this dilemma, which led to the establishment of the Teaching Treaties in the Classroom training program.
It also led to a renewed curriculum, which is being developed in order to better align Treaty education with the provincial curriculum. A Treaty Curriculum Renewal Team with members from school divisions, First Nations and Tribal Councils has been overseeing the K-12 Treaty Renewal Project since May 2012, and Project Coordinator Susan Beaudin has been working with teachers to develop the grade-level resources.
The goal of the initiative is that all citizens of Saskatchewan will recognize that We Are All Treaty People.
The premise is that a Treaty takes at least two parties/peoples to enter into an agreement. If someone enjoys the fruits of this land known as Canada, then they must recognize that it was built on agreements/Treaties between its original inhabitants and the Crown.
Making a Difference
Thousands of teachers throughout the province have received Treaty training. Furthermore, Saskatchewan universities are now making it a mandatory component of training for pre-service teachers. This is another first in Canada.
The Curriculum Renewal Project Team, which is comprised of about 25 members representing provincial school divisions and First Nations and Elders as advisors, has been creating connections between the provincial curriculum and the Treaty Essential Learnings. This massive project involves dozens of teachers and administrators spanning Saskatchewan.
One of the biggest challenges in developing new curriculum connections is that, prior to the OTC Treaty education for teachers, there was no Treaty Education for teachers, thus it is an education for all teachers, new and seasoned. The 'train the trainer program' is effective.
Vision for the Future
The vision for the future is that all people henceforth will be educated about Treaties with authentic materials and training. This education will promote acceptance and inclusiveness in Saskatchewan. The hope is to eliminate racism.
About the Office of the Treaty Commissioner
The OTC is mandated to advance the Treaty goal of establishing good relations amongst all people of Saskatchewan. The OTC continues to work with First Nations, provincial school systems and other educational institutions to raise awareness and understanding of Treaties and First Nations Peoples.
Best Practice Contact
Brenda Ahenakew, Director of Education
Office of the Treaty Commissioner
#215-2553 Grasswood Rd. E.
Saskatoon, SK S7T 1C8