President’s Message (October 3, 2017)

If you are reading this in Winnipeg or Teulon, Balmoral or Stonewall, Rosser or Stony Mountain, or anywhere in the large swath of land that reaches from the US border in the south, to (roughly) Gimli in the North, to the boreal forests in the east, to the sand dunes of the west, then you are on Treaty One land. The Interlake School Division, itself, is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe People and on the Homeland of the Metis Nation. The eastern border of the Interlake School Division is only 20km from the location just outside of Lower Fort Garry where Treaty One was signed. That treaty has not been honoured. September 30, Orange Shirt Day, is an annual day to remember wrongs perpetrated through residential schools and more generally the failure of governments to live up to the letter and spirit of Treaty One. The Manitoba Teachers’ Society, The Interlake Teachers’ Association, and the Interlake School Division, have all publicly acknowledged the wrongs of the past; and all acknowledge that a single day of remembering is only a start. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a guide, we must now take practical steps toward a different future. The TRC speaks directly to teachers. It calls for the education system to implement a “curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada [as a] mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.” In addition, it calls for such a curriculum to be integrated into existing curricula, not stand as something apart. We teachers are in a unique position to act directly in response to the TRC. And, indeed, a look around the division shows that many teachers and schools are embracing this call to action. Like anything in education, in order to teach, we must first learn.  Some practical steps are below.