When I first walked into the meeting with Mike I was nervous and scared because I did not know how he would reply to what I had to say. After looking back on how scared and nervous I was I wonder why now. It was a conversation revolving around Treaty Education.
The first question and the last question fit together. Mike asked me was what it will take for you to meet the Treaty mandate and how will I prepare for the future. My response to this question was not staying sheltered in my classroom my first years of teaching, rereading the TRC and building relationships with Elders. I think it is important to do every single one of these. To properly integrate Treaty Education you will need many resources and many of those resources you will not find by yourself. Re reading the TRC is a must because it is a very dense read in one sitting. Then the question came up from Mike: What have you thought of how much you have read? This was the question I was hoping I would not get. I was honest with Mike and said “not that much. But what I have read of it, it is a very dense read. I had to go back and re read some of the sentences while I was reading.” Building the relationship with Elders is critically important as well, which I will touch on later in my blog post.
The next two question he asked was what are the barriers you see in teaching this? And in what ways are you a barrier to teaching this? These questions were answered together during our meeting. I think he got the same answer from a handful of people in our class because it was obvious. The colour of our skin and the gender we are. So I said: “being a white female teaching the Treaty Education content to a First Nations student. A question I have is Do I have to have an Elder there when I teach everything that comes for Treaty Education Outcomes?” Mike’s answer to this was: “yes and no. if I was a Cree Student in your class I would not want you teaching my culture I would want you honoring my culture.” This made me think and I am still thinking about this. How do I honour their culture? Another barrier I face is I want to go back up by where my hometown is and some of the parents are racist.
Another question that he asked me was “what do you say when a student comes up to you and asks why we have to learn this?” Again I was honest with my answer and said: “I have been debating this answer since you asked that in ECS 210 seminar or lecture.” Mike’s response to this was: “You have to figure out why it is important for you to be teaching it because it will be more meaningful to your students.” I think I have come up with part of an answer. I think the reason that we teach Treaty Education and the other “uncomfortable” subject areas for white teachers is because we need to walk along side the First Nations people to help them reconcile with what we have done to them. When I hear the word reconciliation I think of everyone enjoying everyone’s company. I also think of walking along side the First Nations people to help them heal. I am still trying to come up with a better answer than: “well the curriculum says we have to.” I think there is a big difference in teaching students and teaching the curriculum. I do not want my students to just learn the curriculum- I want to teach them how to interact with each other collaboratively.
When I walked into Mike’s office I thought to myself: “how am I going to talk for an hour long without running out of things to say about these questions? Did I prepare enough to talk for an hour?” in my case the hour flew by. I was happy I got to do this one on one because I could share what I thought and not hide my biases in front of Mike.