Treaty education has been a hot topic of discussion in the province ever since a 13-year-old girl wore a pullover with the slogan “Got Land? Thank An Indian” on it to a Balcarres school a few weeks ago.
While some are voicing their support for Tenelle Starr, others say the pullover is inappropriate and divisive.
Tim Caleval, an official with the Ministry of Education, says treaty education has been a mandatory part of the curriculum since 2008 and although it is an evolving process, students are definitely more knowledgeable about the treaties today than they were six years ago.
“While I think we always have more work to do in generating that sort of system wide understanding of treaty and the role of everyone in terms of understanding treaty education in K-12, I think we’re certainly better than we were in 2007 when we didn’t have any resources there,” he says.
Caleval adds although there is no set number of hours treaty education must be taught in the classroom, teachers are required to include it as a part of various courses in the curriculum.
“We have, say, an English language arts course that we’re doing in Grade 12 and what we would do is ask kids, that are doing English language arts, they would also be examining the importance of treaty relationship when it comes to culture and prosperity. And then looking at how the media depicts the treaty relationship to determine the effects it has on public perception.”
In order to show their support for Tenelle Starr, who is a member of the Star Blanket First Nation, a number of groups have been coordinating orders of clothing with the “Got Land? Thank An Indian” slogan on them.
The clothing is designed by Manitoba artist Jeff Menard.