SASKATOON — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC), the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC) and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on reconciliation through treaty education.
The MOU recognizes that reconciliation through treaty education can be the tool to overcome obstacles that affect treaty relations. It also endorses partnerships to address the advancement of treaty awareness and education as vehicles toward the elimination of systemic discrimination and embody the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Through the MOU, the partners have committed to working to address discrimination in the spirit and intent of treaty partnerships and as partners in reconciliation.
“This Memorandum of Understanding is the first step toward reconciliation through education,” said FSIN chief Bobby Cameron. “It provides a way forward for the institutions involved to create treaty awareness in the classroom. Our children will grow up understanding their inherent rights and their treaty rights. They will learn that treaties are sacred covenants as well as international law. Together, we can end discrimination in our education systems.”
“Education was the vehicle used to oppress First Nations people,” noted Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson. “Through education about the spirit, the intent and the treaty relationship, reconciliation can be achieved. Education will be the vehicle to take us there.”
“We have an opportunity to provide education directed toward improving our knowledge and understanding of the historical treaties. To fully understand them, one must understand their spirit and intent,” said SICC president Wanda Wilson. “Language and culture must be understood as the bedrock of the First Nations’ world view, and it is vital that this forms an integral component of any education program. This must come from the language-keepers and the knowledge-keepers.”
“Our ongoing partnerships are important in addressing shared responsibilities and interests in Saskatchewan’s education systems,” said Shawn Davidson, president of the SSBA. “Joining together to sign this MOU is about our commitment to work collectively for the benefit of all Saskatchewan students.”
SSBA’s member boards have passed a number of resolutions related to treaty education. One resolution adopted in 2017 calls for a mandatory indigenous studies class at the secondary level, in addition to indigenous teachings currently embedded in the curriculum. Another resolution passed in 2017 calls on all schools and board of education offices in Saskatchewan to display the treaty symbol.
The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the treaties, as well as the promotion, protection, and implementation of treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.