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Unit Eight The Role of Treaties

What is the most important aspect of what you have learned about teaching treaties in the classroom?

The most important aspect I have learnt about teaching treaties in the classrooms is that it needs to be taught as a community. Teachers should not solely rely on themselves to teach treaties but partner themselves with other teachers, aboriginal educators, and aboriginal elders.  Co-educators can help you be accountable, they will be able to correct your mistakes,  and help you learn from your mistakes, and add more depth and meaning to your teaching.

How can treaties be a bridge to harmonious relations for First Nations and Non-First-Nations?

Treaties can be bridges to relations between First Nations and Non-First-Nations because it can act as the basis to revive the old treaty relationships and create a new treaty relationship with First Nations and Non-First Nations.

Write a reflection to Koops’ work on Treaty Walking and Songwriting.

Reading through Koops’ Treaty Walking and Songwriting reminded me that Treaty Education must be integrated in the entire curriculum. As a musician I know that music is a universal language. Most people forget the important of arts education. Unlike other subjects art like music is a universal language.  Usually teachers incorporate treaty education into social studies, history or English class. Koops taught treaty education through music. She used her musical talents to write the music and wrote the lyrics using references and quote from treaty resources and perspectives. Not only was Koops able to teach head knowledge about the treaties but she was able to gain empathy from others using music.



Unit Six Treaty Process: Purpose, Implementation and Issues

What are the outstanding issues in the Treaty process?

There are many outstanding issues concerning the Treaty process.  Issues such as lands in dispute, education, and self-government (autonomy) just to name a few.

During the time of treaty-making it was promised that there was to be land set aside for the First Nations, but “the lands were either not given or not enough was given” (“We are all treaty people,”2008, pg.  52). The promise was poorly kept and halfway fulfilled.

Another issue is education, most of the general population have little to no knowledge about the treaties. Even though the treaties are a vital part of Canadian history there is reluctance and resist integrating treaty education into the curriculum. There are outcomes and indicators in the Saskatchewan curriculum that touches on the treaties most if not all are within social studies or history. (“We are all treaty people,” 2008, pg. 54-55) But this is the bare minimum.

Educating the general population is not the only issues pertaining to education. In the treaties, the government promised First Nations education. For example, principle condition 7 of Treaty #4 states that “[s]chools to be established on each Reserve” (“TREATY 4,” pg.9).  The First Nations “asked for the introduction of the various forms of education to augment their own education systems.” Instead, First Nations were forced into Residential schools. The suffering First Nations children had to go through has caused harmful effects on the present First Nations community such as intergenerational trauma.

A third issue is the self-government of First Nations. In the 1763 Royal Proclamation, the British Crown (this extended to the future Canadian government) recognized the nationhood of the First Nations. But in 1876 the Indian Act was passed without the consent of the First Nations. The Indian Act is a body of laws that essentially takes away the autonomy of First Nations governance and First Nations self-determination. The act treated First Nations as wards of the state instead of an independent nation. “Although the Indian Act was and is being used to undermine self-government of the First Nations people “[s]elf-government is something that First Nations peoples have always possessed pre-contact and post-contact.” (“We are all treaty people,” 2008, pg. 53)

 How can they be resolved?

These issues and many other issues such as racism, residential schools, prejudice in the criminal justice system, etc. have contributed to First Nations sub-standard living. These issues must be resolved in order to properly kept the treaties and for the well-being of First Nations people and non-indigenous Canadians.

One of the first things is to revigorate the treaty relationship between First Nations and the government and Canadians.

Other things such as the continuous dialogue between Firs Nations and the government, the restoration of First Nations self-government, the education of all Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, on the treaties and First Nations issues.


Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (2008). Treaty Essential Learnings: We Are All Treaty People. Saskatoon: Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

Unit Five: Indian Act and its Impact on First Nations People

Do you think the Indian Act should be revised or abolished? Respond to the following statement: “The Indian Act has affected the treaty relationship because of its paternalistic nature, created to control every aspect of First Nations peoples’ lives. It is an impediment to treaty implementation.”

The Indian Act is a law that treats Indigenous peoples  “like children;…like “persons underage, incapable of the management of their own affairs” and, therefore, the government had to assume the “onerous duty of … guardianship” (Indian Act Colonialism: A Century Of Dishonour, 1869-1969, 2008). This act destroys Indigenous self-governance and self-determination by forcing them to adopt a European style government. For example, Indigenous women in First Nations governments could take part in decision making and voting, while European style governments forbade women from voting. Another example of the Indian Act treating First Nations as wards of the state is that the Canadian government dictates who is First Nations. In the Indian Act, under the section “Definition and Registration of Indians,” it lists a series of requirements that a person must meet to prove to the government if a person is an Indigenous person.

I think that the decision to revise or abolish the Indian Act should be up to the Indigenous community. But if you were to ask my opinion on the issue, I lean towards revising the Indian Act. I’m more in favour of revising the Indian Act because although it has done so much harm to the Indigenous community. This act is evidence that the Canadian government acknowledges the legal duty it has towards Indigenous peoples. It also acknowledges the special relationship the Canadian government has with First Nations that distinguishes them different from other Canadians.


Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. 1-5 Retrieved from

National Centre for First Nations Governance. (2008). Indian Act Colonialism: A Century Of Dishonour, 1869-1969. [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Unit Four: Cultural and Controversial Issues in the Classroom

Part I 

Frecon and Lang (2017) completed a treaty project with high school students from Regina, Saskatchewan. Discuss the following statement: “after everything they had learned and experienced the previous year, Leia had trouble believing that her students’ perceptions were defined by the same indifference they have shown at the beginning of grade nine.” Why do you think there was still an indifference to knowing about treaties? What was most successful about the project? 

I think there are many reasons that Leia’s students had the same indifference towards treaty education they had before participating in the conference. First, the excitement faded away. Second, the knowledge and empathy they acquired from the Treaty4Project conference were forgotten.  When the student’s teacher, Leia, asked them to recall what they learned in the four workshops the participated in, “many of them could not remember more than one workshop” (Fortier-Frecon & Laing, 2017 p. 33). Third, the students did not think it was important to learn about the treaties. Leia states that it took her a few weeks to a year “to convince them [her students] that it was important to learn about First Nations culture and to understand the negotiation of treaties”  (Fortier-Frecon & Laing, 2017 p. 34). The most successful result of Treaty4Project was the interest it stirred in the students. It made the students realized the importance and relevance of treaty education.

Part II

Why do Tupper and Cappello refer to teaching treaties as (Un)Usual Narratives?

Tupper and Cappello refer to teaching treaties as (Un)Usual Narrative because treaty education is a different way of understanding Canadian history. Most of Canadian history is told from the pioneer perspective that it was “the ingenuity and pioneering spirit of the early prairie farmers” (Tupper& Cappello, 2008 p. 561) that help create the province of Saskatchewan.  This is the dominant narrative. Teaching treaties is a counter-narrative to the dominant narrative and is needed to see the whole picture of Canada’s history.

What do they mean that the curricular commonsense needs to be disrupted? 

They mean to disrupt the Curricular Commonsense because it only gives one narrative to the story and a whole story cannot be told from one perspective.

Why is there a continuing reluctance and resistance to teaching treaties in the classroom?

Many teachers are reluctant to teach treaty education because they don’t know how to go about it without making mistakes and being disrespectful.  There hasn’t been a big push on teaching Treaty education until a decade or less ago. Many teachers haven’t been taught anything about treaties in their own K-12 education and university years and so not only do they have to teach their students about treaties but they also have to teach themselves.

What does “We are all treaty people” mean to you?

The phrase “We are all treaty people” means to me is that anyone who lives in Treaty territories are participants of the treaties. We are not just participants but beneficiaries of the treaties. With these benefits come responsibilities that treaty people have to honour and keep.

Unit Three: Issues Addressed in the Treaties of Saskatchewan

What are some of the substantive issues in the Treaties of Saskatchewan?

One of the substantive issues in the Treaties of Saskatchewan is the mismanagement of the implementation of the treaties. The Crown did not implement their part of the treaties according to the wishes of the First Nations. The First Nations agreed to let the Europeans settle in the land and in exchange the Crown would give them support to maintain their current livelihood or support for a new livelihood if they chose to adopt the settler’s lifestyle (farming). The Crown did the bare minimum and did not consult with the First Nations on how the implementation was going to get done or they did not even fulfill it. For example First Nations wanted an education for their children so they wanted schools to be built on their reserves, but the government forced them to send their children far away to residential schools.

What does the “spirit and intent of treaties” mean?

The “spirit and intent” of treaties means the sacredness of the treaties. The treaties involved three parties, the First Nations, the British Crown and the Creator. The Creator is the witness to the treaties and so the treaties are considered sacred because the First Nations and the Crown not only promise to keep the treaties to each other but to the Creator too.

The intentions of the treaties were for the First Nations and settlers to live in harmony together and were to be mutually beneficial. “The treaties were foundational agreements entered into for the purpose of providing the parties with the means of achieving survival and stability, anchored on the principle of mutual benefit.”  (Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2008, p. 10)

How do we address truth and reconciliation in relation to treaties? 

Educators should address the truth and reconciliation in relation to treaties by educating the public about the treaties. For example, the Mennonites and Lutheran from Laird, Saskatchewan did not know about the Stoney Knoll Land Claim that their town and farms were situated on. They had to educate and research for themselves. In the past, the Crown did not educate the settlers about the treaties and how the settlers should respect and keep the treaties. I think that the government and school working with the First Nations peoples should be the ones to teach Non-Indigenous peoples about the treaties.


Office of the Treaty Commissioner (2008). Treaty Essential Learnings: We Are All Treaty People.



Unit Two: Spirituality in Understanding of the Treaties

Treaties were viewed as a sacred undertaking by First Nations people. Discuss and define what spirituality is. What role did First Nations spirituality have in the treaty-making process?

According to First Nations people, spirituality is “an over-arching influence that refers to the Creator’s presence in nature and all our activities” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2009).  Since First Nations people believe that spirituality influences their activities it also influenced the treaty-making process. When the First Nations made the treaties, they included the Creator as the third participant of the treaties. To the First Nations, they and the Crown did not only promised to keep the treaties to each other but also made a vow to the Creator.

When the Crown was making the treaties with the First Nations the Crown participated in the pipe ceremony. The pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual that the First Nations used to commune with the Creator. During the “time of treaty signing, the smoking of the pipe was done in recognition of the Creator, to ask for guidance and to acknowledge that the act of signing the treaties was a solemn pledge between…First Nations peoples and the Crown.”  It was “expected the promises would be upheld and honoured for time immemorial.” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2008).

How can spirituality be taught in school?

To teach First Nation spirituality students need to learn First Nations world views. Educators can start with teaching First Nations language. There are “[i]deas in Cree culture are tied to a different way of viewing the world, with specific words that describe that world view.” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2009).


Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (2009). Making the Connection Cree First Nations Kehte-ayak Thoughts on Education. Saskatoon, SK.

 Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Treaty Essential Learnings #4. 26-47.

Unit One: Treaty Historic Context

Describe the unique relationship between the Canadian government and First Nations people during the treaty-making era.

Before the British government “purchased” Rupert’s Land from the Hudson Bay Company (HSC), The First Nations and the HBC were already trading with each other as business partners. Unlike the HBC, the British government recognized the nationhood of the First Nations. The British government and First Nations made the treaties on a nation to nation base.

The British wanted land to settle, while the First Nations wanted European goods such as medicine. As more people settled in Canada, the First Nations livelihoods were threatened for example the decreasing buffalo population due to excessive hunting by the European settlers. The First Nations realized that they needed to find a new livelihood. In the treaties “First Nations were promised the choice of continuing their hunter-gatherer economy or adopting the settlers’ agriculture economy and receiving the necessary training and implements (David Arnot p. 4) Unfortunately that promise was kept by the Canadian government.

What were the differences between First Nations and Non-First Nations perspectives of the treaty-making processes?

The First Nations view that the treaty-making process as sacred. A treaty was a covenant between them and the Crown with the Creator as a witness. The Creator was not only a witness but the third party in the treaty. The First Nations and the Crown were not only making a promise to each other but made a promise to the Creator that they will keep the treaty.  Saulteaux Elder, Danny Musqua, describes the treaties as “a covenant is not just a relationship between people; it’s a relationship between three parties, you (the Crown) and me (First Nations) and the Creator.” (David Arnot p. 2)

In contrast, the European settlers viewed the treaty-making process as making a contract between two nations’ trading resources. Unlike the First Nations where a treaty lasts of eternity, the European settlers viewed treaties as having an expiration.

But with the numbered treaties both parties understood that the treaties were to be kept “as long as the sun shines,  the river flows, and the grass grows” – forever.

What is the relevance of the principles of the Proclamation of 1763?

In the Proclamation of 1763, the British government recognized the nationhood of the First Nations. It recognized the ancestral land rights of the First Nations. It also states that only the British government could acquire land from the First Nations and that no private business or individual settlers could buy land unless through the British government. These principles of the Proclamation of 1763 are relevant today because it acknowledges this land is the First Nations land and that it has not been conquered by another nation.


Arnot, D. (2011). The Honour of First Nations: The Honour of the Crown The Unique Relationship of First Nations with the Crown. Queen’s University. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from