The TEI involves the development, piloting, and implementation of treaty related curriculum, educational resources, and teacher training in Manitoba schools. It is an initiative of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba (TRCM), in partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba chiefs, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Manitoba Education, and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. It is part of the TRCM’s public education mandate, and is a component of their broader “We are all treaty people” initiative.
The strategic plan for the project was developed in 2009/2010. It was piloted in grade five and six classrooms during the 2010/2011 school year. The TEI targets all students moving through the Manitoba school system, including public and band-controlled schools, in both rural and urban areas. The initiative is directed at both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike. The TEI also trains classroom teachers, school administrators, and Bachelor of Education students of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds, who work with Manitoba’s students in both the public and First Nations school districts.
The overarching goal of the TEI is to increase the knowledge of treaties and treaty relationships among all students moving through Manitoba schools, and to support treaty education within k-12 classrooms across the province in a manner which complements the broader public education mandate of the TRCM and its “We Are All Treaty People” campaign. It is the goal of the TEI that upon the completion of grade 12, all students should be able to demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of the numbered treaties in Manitoba, and the concepts and relationships relating to them, as well as understand the impact treaties had on the creation of the province. They hope to have curriculum and resources active in Manitoba classrooms from K- 12 by the start of the 2014/2015 school year, and eventually seek to have TEI a mandatory part of provincial curriculum, as it is currently taught on a voluntary basis.
The TEI is marketed as a supplement to the current Manitoba school curriculum, and as such is administered within the formal education systems operating within the province. That being said, the TEI allows for a different part of history to be told, which those behind the initiative see as essential to understanding where Manitoba is at today.
The AMC Council of Elders is involved in all aspects of the process, from curriculum development to the teacher training workshops where they provide historical backgrounds on the treaties and their significance. Educators, academics, historians, and government officials also review the materials developed and used within the TEI. After partaking in a two-day training session, teachers are able to use these resources in their classrooms. At these training sessions, educators are taught by Elders and both Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and experts, and they are also given a historical context on treaties and treaty relationships from which they can move forward. Following training sessions, schools are given kits that contain many materials and resources including: teacher guides, dvds, posters, maps and other reference documents. There exists a specific teacher guide for each grade, as well as a resource entitled Treaty Essential Learnings: The Treaty Experience in Manitoba, contained within each kit. Moving through the grade levels, the curriculum becomes increasingly involved, reflective, and more critical. In the upper years, the material is structured in such a way that facilitates students to see the topic through many different perspectives, and to then form their own critical opinions.