FNT2T Life Long Learning: Unlearning & Learning Beyond a Day, a Week, a Month…

Treaty 2 Territory – Boozhoo! September 30th is first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a good step in the right direction, but meaningful reconciliation goes beyond a day, a week, and a month. It is an ongoing commitment and journey. Given the recent recoveries at residential schools across Canada, FNT2T Life Long Learning developed a new teaching tool that is specific to Treaty 2 Territory. The Treaty 2 Residential Schools Learning Booklet provides a brief history of the schools that functioned in and around the territory along with a number of recommended readings (for all ages) and suggested lesson plans. This learning tool is a living and breathing document that will grow and change over time. It is a good start to the following:

  • The Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action #62: “Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples; historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.”
  • Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Indigenous people have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”
  • Wahbung: Our Tomorrow’s by the First Nations of Manitoba: “It is our responsibility, especially after 100 years of the white man’s failure and as those with the most to gain and the most to lose, to direct the changes in the education process.”

Life Long Learning used The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Final Report to draft the Treaty 2 Residential Schools Learning Booklet. In Volume 1 The History-Part 2 1939-2000, it is recorded that many if not most children at Brandon Residential School were used a free labour at neighbouring farms: “In 1952, the Grade Five through Grade Seven boys at the Brandon school were working four half-days a week at manual labour while the girls in Grade Four through Seven were spending four half-days a week performing domestic labour” (pp. 137). Thus, while we often see local commercials celebrating farm production, we aren’t told the history behind Western agriculture. This is an uncomfortable truth for many, but it is one (just one) that Manitoba and Canada must face for true and meaningful reconciliation. How many of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, have children or grandchildren in Grade Four? Would we ever allow for our little ones to serve as free labour (this does not include household chores that we may give to our children)? One account shared by a former student “ran away from the Birtle, Manitoba, school in 1959, he told Indian Affairs official J.R. Bell that he wanted to continue his education, but had been forced to work ‘too hard’ at the Birtle school” (pp. 139). Further to this, “Chief Bignell and Band Councillor Constant travelled from The Pas to Winnipeg to voice their complaints about the Elkhorn school…they said the children were not being properly clothed and fed or kept clean. An inspection by A.G. Hamilton largely confirmed their report” (pp. 157). These are only a few records within the TRC Final Report. FNT2T advocates that everyone read the TRC Final Report along with the 94 Calls To Action.

The booklet is currently at graphic design and will be shared with Local Nations when available.

FNT2T hosted a virtual youth session for its Youth Council back in spring. Life Long Learning held one of those four sessions in which Andrea Landry (Anishinaabe) was a guest speaker. Landry is a freelance writer who has an immense training and experiences portfolio. She recently wrote a piece for Today’s Parent. It is titled: “Wearing Orange Shirts on September 30th is a Great Start – but You Can Do More.” Landry shares seven recommendations on how to implement meaningful change so that we can move forward in a way that is not just performative or words, but action: https://www.todaysparent.com/blogs/opinion/orange-shirt-day-is-a-great-start-but-you-can-do-more/

Miigwetch. Renew and revitalize.