As a settler, my eyes have been opened to the idea that treaties were originally created to be a peaceful friendship between two groups. In part, many of the treaties were created, “not [as] land surrenders, but rather established commercial trade arrangements and reflected a desire on the part of the British to have military alliances.” (Chelsey Vowel, 2016, pg. 246) When trying to understand my role as a treaty person, I believe that it’s important to understand why treaties were originally signed and what the original intent behind them was.
Peace and Respect. These were the original intentions of settler relations with Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island. At first contact, the Europeans needed support from the Indigenous peoples in order to survive the conditions of Turtle Island. So what went wrong? Why did the Europeans go from wanting a relationship with Indigenous groups to trying to assimilate them into ‘European society”. Well, what is comes down to is the ideals of patriarchy and colonialism. Europeans lack of respect for Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing/ living caused a breakdown in communication and therefore lead to the disintegration of the peaceful and respectful relationships between Indigenous Peoples and settlers.
Even though Indigenous Peoples have been cheated by, misled, or even hurt from the settler peoples, I am astounded by the resiliency, openness and forgiveness that emanates from survivors, decision makers and the general population of Indigenous Peoples who I have heard their stories or comments at this point in my treaty walk. I strongly believe that the greater populations of settler peoples have a responsibility to listen to Indigenous voices as they hold many valuable and respectable morals and ideas that I strongly believe should be integrated and adopted into the western worldview.
In this, I am making reference to the ideals of religion. I have a high respect for the idea I have heard mentioned by various elders or life speakers from different groups across Saskatchewan. This idea comes forth when a diverse group of people take part in a ceremony or experience together and someone refers to praying to a higher power. The common phrase that I have heard associated with this, in which I admire, is to, “pray in the way you were taught.” In my worldview, this means that there is no discrimination against your beliefs and values, but you are called to take part in this honourable experience in the eyes of a greater power (ie: God, the Creator etc.). Hearing and recognizing this common narrative makes me feel hope that as a part of reconciliation, that all people will come to recognize, and respect the differences that we have as a diverse nation and the fact that we should not discriminate against someone who may have a different belief then our own.
As a part of my treaty walk and my journey to becoming an educator, I believe that the ideas of peace and respect as well as openness, forgiveness and reciliency are elements that I would like to bring into my classroom. In doing this, I am able to develop students who are open minded, caring and stronger global citizen, which in turn will help our society move away from colonialism and patriarchy and work towards a more just and welcoming world.
Until next time,