Steinbach MLA and Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that the Manitoba government is investing $1.25 million to educate students and teachers about treaties and the treaty relationship, in collaboration with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.

“Manitoba is a leader in treaty education, ensuring that treaties and the treaty relationship are embedded in the social studies curriculum, while continuing to support ongoing teacher training in reconciliation,” said Goertzen. “In the 2017 speech from the throne, our government committed to work with our partners to further establish treaty education in the Manitoba curriculum, and I’m pleased to announce the Treaty Education Initiative in response to that commitment.”

The training program, funded for five years, is a two-day course that builds understanding of treaties and the treaty relationship. Course facilitators, along with an elder, provide the training and equip teachers with interactive learning strategies and a resource kit with additional teaching resources to take back to their schools. Sessions are tailored to early, middle and senior years instruction, depending on the teachers in attendance.

“Understanding our province’s rich history requires an awareness of the special relationship that exists between Manitoba and Indigenous peoples,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke. “Through this initiative, teachers will be better equipped to address treaties and treaty relationships in the classroom, and students will have the opportunity to learn about the important role that treaties play in Manitoba, both historically and in the present day.”

The Treaty Education Initiative responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, specifically actions 62 and 63, to develop and implement resources on Indigenous peoples in Canadian history, Goertzen noted.

“The Treaty Education Initiative is an excellent learning opportunity and a resource to help understand the treaties from the First Nations perspective,” said Loretta Ross, treaty commissioner, Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. “In order to understand Manitoba history, students must first learn that treaties are foundational to the formation of Canada. We are pleased to provide these resources that can be used in the classroom.”

Since 2003, treaties and the treaty relationship have been embedded in the mandatory learning outcomes of the kindergarten to Grade 12 social studies curriculum.

The Treaty Education Initiative began in 2009 to provide teacher support documentation. Since then, the program has grown. At the end of 2018-19, 2,868 educators had been trained and 1,310 instruction kits were distributed.

The Manitoba government is also offering another program to support understanding of Indigenous identity. As of early 2019, the Indigenous Identification Declaration Online Training for Administration is available to school office administration. The online training will provide valuable information about Indigenous identity declaration to school administration, as they are often the first points of contact for parents and caregivers registering children in schools, Goertzen said.