Treaty education and reconciliation resources

December 21, 2017
By Stewart Resources Centre

In 2007, K-12 treaty education became mandatory in Saskatchewan with goals centred on the relationships, spirit and intent, historical context, and promises and provisions of the treaties. In 2015, several of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action for the education system were about the importance of making available age-appropriate curricula and learning resources on residential schools, treaties and the contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canada. 

Due to the creativity of writers, publishers and educators, increasing numbers of exciting learning resources on these crucial topics are becoming available.

When We Were Alone, by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett, won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award in the Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) category. In this poignant story, a grandmother answers a young girl’s questions and tells her about all the things she lost when she attended a residential school. It is suitable for PreK to Grade 3.

You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Danielle Daniel, is another outstanding picture book. The importance of friendships and relationships in fostering resilience, empathy, respect and reconciliation are some of its key messages.

Under One Sun, a new series for K-6 written by Regina educators Calvin Racette and Jackie Taypotat, explores Indigenous themes of identity, connection to Mother Earth and relationships to each other, while also focusing on treaties and on ways of connecting to reconciliation. The Grade 3 set includes titles such as Understanding Each Other, We Are All Treaty People and What is a Treaty? The collection for Grade 5 includes levelled cards entitled The Indian Act: Then and Now, Land Claims and What Do Treaties Mean to You?

Titles recommended by the Ministry of Education are described in the resources sections of the curriculum website. Some examples at the elementary level are the Circle of Life Set 3: Learning From an Elder, which supports outcomes in Social Studies 2 and Treaty Education 2; and the Treaty Tales series by Betty Lynxleg, which supports outcomes in kindergarten, Social Studies 2 and Treaty Education 2. The Taanishi Books–Emergent Reader Series, published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research, explores themes in Métis culture and identity and fits kindergarten, treaty education and social studies outcomes for grades 1 and 2.

Other items can be located by clicking on the Treaty Education and Truth and Reconciliation filters on the left side of the resource list screen for many English language arts and social studies curricula. Most of the recommended print titles can be obtained from the Stewart Resources Centre by clicking on the Borrow from the STF Library symbol.

Approved middle grades resources are also available from the Centre. Secret Path, a graphic novel with lyrics by Gord Downie and illustrations by Jeff Lemire, is the heartbreaking story of Chanie Wenjack, who died trying to return home after fleeing his residential school. It supports Grade 8 treaty education, social studies, arts education and English language arts outcomes.

Aboriginal Treaties, by Carolyn Gray, explains the purposes of treaties among Aboriginal peoples themselves and with the newcomers. It connects to the outcomes for treaty education grades 7 to 9 and social studies grades 7 to 9.

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools: The Devastating Impact on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Findings and Calls for Action, by Melanie Florence, presents personal accounts, historical documents and photographs to explain the history and legacy of Canada’s residential schools. It supports reconciliation topics and outcomes in treaty education and Social Studies 8. 

An upcoming column will highlight treaty education and reconciliation resources for high school students, as well as professional resources for teachers. To  borrow any resources, please email src@stf.sk.ca