During the 2010-2011 school year 11 schools took part in a pilot program for the Treaty Education Initiative. The pilot included fifth and sixth grade classes at urban, rural, on reserve and off reserve schools across Manitoba, Canada.
The initiative was created to “increase the knowledge and understanding of the treaties and the treaty relationship among all students; ensure students understand the impact of the treaties and the treaty relationship on the creation of Manitoba; build bridges between all peoples in order to strengthen our society and our prosperity,” reads the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM) website.
Over the next two years, teaching guides and resources will be created for K-4 and 7-12, and when done, every student in Manitoba will learn the importance of treaties.
“I fully support this effort as it will help ensure Canadians learn about and understand First Nations and the history of the relationship between our people and Canada,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said in support of the initiative. “I encourage all schools across Canada, whether First Nations or provincial, to look at these materials and resources and use them as a national teaching tool for K-12 students. This country was built on treaties and we have made treaties and treaty rights one of our main priorities here at the AFN. These materials will help Canadians understand that we are all Treaty People."
In 1871, Chief Yellowquill was the first signatory to Treaty One, a document called “one of the most important and enduring agreements in Canada,” by TRCM in a release.
To signify the importance of that treaty, Yellowquill’s great-great-great granddaughter, Nicahne Daniels presented a duplicate of that treaty—a piece of her family’s history—to William Whyte Community School fifth and sixth grade students Xavier Amadei, Raychel Ritual and Darrius Jack.
“This symbolic exchange launched a new era in Manitoba education that will ensure every student in the province is taught the importance of Treaties and Treaty Relationship,” TRCM said in the release.
There are a total of 70 treaties across Canada.