I am a citizen of Saskatchewan and a member of Ms. Eyre’s riding. I acknowledge that I live on Treaty Six territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. I feel I must make you aware of my dismay at the statements made by the Minister of Education with regards to Treaty Education and its place in the curriculum of Saskatchewan schools.
Treaty Education is a fundamental piece of Saskatchewan and Canadian history. The impact of treaty on the settler and the First Nation’s peoples is undeniable. We live in its shadows.
As a descendent of settler people, I have needed to find my way to a place of hope for the future while understanding the complicity of my ancestors in the mistreatment of First Nations and Métis people in the past. I am proud of the resilience, strength and capacity of my settler ancestors. My great-grandparents worked land in Osler and near Edmonton. They worked to raise families and hoped for a future of prosperity for their children and grandchildren. They believed in education as a fundamental tool in the lives of their children to bring about that prosperity. Their children are business owners, teachers, and community development workers. They have university education and have had access to political leaders, community leaders and policy makers. While they came to this country with nothing but their work ethic and family connections, they were given access to land and opportunity. I am proud of the stories which they have given me and the virtues and values which live in me because of those stories. I am glad to be a citizen of Canada and a prairie person. I am the beneficiary of Treaty agreements.
I live with the guilt and regret of the mistakes of the past. I wept at the protests in front of the Manitoba Legislature in 1990 at the recognition of my colonial ancestry. I have wondered what is within my capacity to do and change to make a difference rather than hide from the injustice. As a result of my turbulent feelings, I have worked to improve my own understanding and stand up for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada. I participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Saskatoon as a volunteer. I must lend my voice now to speak for the continued importance of Treaty Education and the full integration of indigenous ways of knowing as one of the pieces in the Truth and Reconciliation process. We are called through Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take action to improve the education of indigenous peoples including Treaty Education and integrating indigenous history as our shared history is a part of this process.
It is incumbent on the Minister of Education to be aware of the current context of education in Saskatchewan and Canada. She must know the obligations we have to bring about reconciliation between settler peoples and the indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan. We cannot change our history and keep to a view of it, in which we, the privileged, have been right and good through all of time. Minister Eyre needs to take some time to learn and develop her understanding of what it means to be a Treaty person and a person of privilege. She needs to learn about cultural responsiveness and see where she is on that journey. The Minister of Education is the key policy maker for Education within our province, if she is unable to begin this journey, she is not fit to be the Minister.