COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Knox United Church Rev. Craig Miller believes aboriginal treaty education should be mandatory for K-12 students in the Brandon School Division. The church is hosting a Treaty Education Initiative forum on Thursday.
A Brandon teacher believes more educators should be trained in treaty knowledge.
Bryanne McLaughlin, an École New Era School teacher and an aboriginal education committee member, said treaties signed between aboriginal people and the federal government are an "important part of Manitoba and Canadian culture" and are something she believes more teachers should have an interest in.
"Many teachers think this would be an additional thing to teach," she said. "But it’s not a separate entity, it could be seamlessly entered into what you’re already doing."
Currently in Manitoba, 22 out of 39 school divisions are implementing their treaty education in their schools. Although K-12 teacher resources and training are available to all Brandon School Division teachers, this training and the inclusion of treaty education in the classroom remains optional.
But McLaughlin doesn’t believe making it mandatory will change things. She said what needs to change is the idea that teaching treaties in the classroom will mean more work for teachers.
"All the curriculum outcomes are the same, it’s just the delivery mode would have to be a bit different," she said. "If you’re creative enough, you could integrate it into any subject."
After taking a two-day seminar hosted by the Treaty Relations Committee of Manitoba last year, McLaughlin said she was provided with the tools and resources to help integrate aboriginal perspectives into different areas of the curriculum.
With help from another teacher, McLaughlin said they’ve been able to integrate lessons regarding treaties into the classroom. So far they’ve had their Grade 4 and 5 multi-grade classroom students create and make amendments to their own treaty agreement.
They’ve also delved deeper into the numbered treaties by watching video clips of elders who were around during the signing of the treaties, which lead to open class discussions, she said.
Parents, educators, students and community members will have a chance to learn more about the importance of treaty education during a Treaty Education Initiative forum on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Knox United Church. The forum is being organized by a committee of community members concerned about reconciliation between Canada’s aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples.
Committee member and the minister at Knox, Rev. Craig Miller, said they believe a core curriculum addressing aboriginal and non-aboriginal treaty relations in Canada and the contributions of aboriginal culture, wisdom traditions, world views, and histories should be made mandatory for K-12 students within the BSD.
"We think it’s important for all of our children and youth aboriginal and non-aboriginal to be engaged in learning about our history together, the treaties ... and have that be mandatory, not just based on what the teacher wants to implement," Miller said.
"There certainly has been activity — we’re just hoping that can continue to increase."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 13, 2014