I walk and even jog a little to school this morning, because I'm leaving fifteen minutes late. I think about reciprocity, win-win, mutual benefits that treaties were supposed to ensure. I'm thinking how this walking for treaties is benefiting my energy levels. I get to school in plenty of time. I've assigned my students to write their own Treaty Walks stories after attending Treaty 4 yesterday; I coach a few reluctant writers.
One is a hunter, and we talk about how his favorite passtime is possible because we, as newcomers, signed treaties. His story could be about hunting, and thinking about this stupid assignment, and then realizing, hey, I wouldn't even be in these grasslands if it wasn't for treaty.
Another boy is great with cars. I ask him to make a list of how to fix a broken vehicle, then we discussed how broken relationships can be a bit like a broken vehicle. We also add in the "brother to brother" concept because he does mechanics with both his dad and brother.
Another student is writing about having to pay $7.00 for curly fries at Treaty 4. I encourage this original voice, then wonder if he could reflect on how much he hates to get "cheated". I jump up and get the Treaty Essential Learnings book, and we turn to the page that spells out the benefits both sides were supposed to get from treaty; we realize one side got it all, and the other side was cut short. They were promised Education and received Residential School. They were promised farm implements, and land was taken away. They were promised cultural integrity, and their ceremonies were outlawed. Yes, don't we all hate being cheated!
On September 15th, 1874, Treaty Four was signed in Fort Qu'Appelle. I have chosen today to dedicate my treaty walking to my friend and elder, Keitha Brass and our friends at the Community Outreach. Keitha's great grandfather, Chief Ben Pasqua, was one of the signators of Treaty Four, and she, like her grandfather and great grandfather, is a leader. She does not like to make big speeches or draw attention to herself; rather, she leads with kindness and compassion making a difference in the lives of all of us who frequent the Outreach. Keitha is my sounding board, my big sister, and my role model. I am proud to walk at her side sister-to-sister.