Annual initiative to teach people about treaties in Ontario underway

The CN Tower was lit in the four colours of the medicine wheel Tuesday as part of Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario.

It’s an opportunity to increase understanding of treaty rights and obligations through school programming and in the time of COVID-19, virtual events and resources can be found online.

A free resource for elementary school students and a secondary school resource to come in Spring 2022 was announced by the Anishinabek Nation.

Ezhi-Nawending: How We Are Related guides students through lessons about Turtle Island, the Anishinaabe worldview, wampum, and treaties.

“Treaties are the foundational documents of Canada,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “Treaties are equal to the Constitution and are enshrined within. To move forward as a Nation, both must be upheld and honoured to their full spirit and intent. Anishinabek Nation is proud to provide accessible teaching tools to facilitate the process. Learn more about the Treaties today to build a better future.”

Treaty educator Kelly Crawford is the author of Alex Shares His Wampum Belt and Dakota Talks About Treaties.

Crawford is currently working on the secondary school resource. She said she wasn’t taught about treaties in school, and the information is new to both students and teachers, but curriculum is improving.

“I think fundamentally it’s difficult for not only students but I think teachers, just to take in – like, ‘Oh I wasn’t taught this I can remember the first class that I ever did a session with was a 5, 6,7 and even just going through the content of the book, one of the grade 5 students was so upset because he’s never heard any of this information before,’” Crawford said.

“I encourage people to just be honest with their students. This wasn’t taught in my education system because… so we are going to do this together.”

Indigenous-owned bookstores such as in southern Ontario also provide resources to learn more about treaties.

David Anderson – Wahwahbiginoojii is an Indigenous Education Consultant with and he says that in addition to books, the treaty documents themselves are available for everyone to learn from.

“Let’s walk on this land together, doesn’t have to be legal talk, it can be spirit, the understanding between human beings,” Anderson said.

Indigenous-owned bookstores can help bring an understanding that has been shielded from the Canadian education system.

“There’s a number of books out there that support that and unfortunately I don’t have the titles off the top of my head but that’s the kind of material that GoodMinds supports and promotes because there is more than just a text book education that we see in academia; there’s all of our stories, our stories about treaties, our understanding of what happened and what should have happened.”

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