Dear student teacher,
I am sad to hear of your experiences during your three-week block. Teaching FNMI content to students who reject it is a difficult task, and is made even more difficult without the support of your co-op or other teachers within the school. Understanding why your students and fellow colleagues reject this content can be an important step in helping you choose which strategies to implement in your mission to prove its value to them. One resource that may help you with your difficulties is Cynthia Chambers’ article, “We are all Treaty People” The Contemporary Countenance of Canadian Curriculum Studies. In the article, Cynthia states that “we show our children what to believe and how to believe when they are very young” (p.26). Your current students and associated faculty may not have been taught FNMI content from a young age, serving as one possible explanation as to why they reject it now. Another resource that may help you is Dwayne Donald’s video, On What Terms Can we Speak?. In the video, Dwayne explains that the disconnect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is a legacy of colonialism. Another local and powerful resource of knowledge, tools, and strategy is grade three teacher Claire Kreuger from Moose Jaw. In a lecture she gave to my ECS 210 class, she responded to this ignorance by stating that “we have trained our ears not to listen and our hearts not to care”.
Even though there may not be FNMI students present in your school, this does not mean that you should not teach FNMI content. As referenced from Claire Kreuger’s lecture, teaching this content can help to “break down barriers” and “get rid of racism”, two concepts that are obviously present within your school. Dwayne Donaldson also explains that we cannot renew the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people without teaching this content. We cannot move forward without looking back. In addition, it is important to remind your students and colleagues that “we are all treaty people” and that there are educational implications that come with that title. As treaty people, we all share in the treaties. Therefore, it is our responsibility to teach about the treaties and other FNMI content present in the curriculum in order to pass down this shared knowledge and responsibility to future generations, so that treaty promises may be fulfilled. Though persuading your students and colleagues to recognize the importance of FNMI content is a challenging task, I commend you for your efforts. You are working with purpose towards a worthy cause, and persistence is key. I hope the resources and advice I have provided you with are helpful to you in your mission.