By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Treaties between this country’s indigenous peoples and the European settlers who came in the past few centuries have been in place for generations – now, Ontario students are going to be learning more about them.
Launched at Oshawa’s David Bouchard Public School, Gdoo-sastamoo kii mi: Understanding Our Nation to Nation Relationship will help students learn about the province’s treaty relationships.
Erin Elmhurst, the Durham District School Board’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit information officer, says it is important that students learn about these treaties, as they are integral to Canada’s history and identity.
“We learn about treaties to truly understand our heritage, to understand our land and to understand where we come from and how we get along with one another, and the history of our land,” Elmhurst tells The Oshawa Express.
This new program, which will be taught across the province, was launched as part of Ontario’s inaugural Treaties Recognition Week, which honours the 46 treaties and other agreements between indigenous people and Europeans, dating back to the late 18th century.
For example, the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island, which includes modern day Durham Region, are covered under the Williams treaties of 1923.
Elmhurst says kids in Durham learn about this treaty, as well as others in Canada, along with why they exist and “how we as a Canadian society, together with indigenous people, how treaties were created and how we coexist and live under those treaties and build relationships.”
However, the information officer did say that there should be more about Canada’s indigenous people that Durham students need to learn about.
“I would certainly like to see more treaty education as we continue to build indigenous education in Durham, as well as work with reconciliation and the calls to action to ensure that students are learning about the indigenous people who were here first, and of course, some of the information on residential schools and the impact that has had on Canadian society.”