M’CHIGEENG—Students at Manitoulin High School discovered a tasty way to commemorate Treaty Recognition Week by lining up for a Taco Day last week. Volunteer members of the Three Fires Confederacy student council kept jumping around the kitchen as they assembled the tacos for teachers, staff and students.
Treaty Recognition Week took place November 6-12 this year. The week was established in 2016 as one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. The goal is to develop a stronger understanding and awareness of our respective nations’ treaty relationships with the goal of moving us all towards reconciliation.
Three Fires Confederacy Staff Advisor Karen McGraw took a moment during a lull in the action to talk a bit about the event and plans for upcoming events at the school. Ms. McGraw noted that during Treaty Recognition Week and throughout the school year, students learn about treaties (including the first wampum belts built to commemorate and define the Aboriginal perspective of treaties), the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and a detailed analysis of the Manitoulin Island Treaty of 1862.
It’s not all learning from books and lectures though. Classes take part in Water Drum Teachings/Nibi Gwiisens Dewegan Kinoomaagewin virtually with Mike Bisson. These courses are offered by the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin and the Anishinabek Nation.
The popular taco sale on Thursday, November 10 was a great example of innovative approaches to building bridges of reconciliation. Outdoor education and treaty day classes will include the “Island of the Great Spirit” video series on Manitoulin and local treaties following a beading lesson with Indigenous Support Worker Becky Abotossaway- Madahbee.
A treaty exhibit will be displayed in the Three Fires Room which contained resources on Indigenous veterans who were honored on November 8 (Indigenous Veterans Day).
McGraw said it’s important for students to learn about Indigenous contributions to the defense of Canada, but also about the disparity in how Indigenous veterans were treated upon their return.
For many students, such historical reflections provide the foundation for understanding why our nation needs to follow a path of reconciliation, a story that is misunderstood by most Canadians.
The Taco Day sale also aims to raise funds for many student events, including the school powwow.
Among the many things happening at the school is the establishment of a school drum and plans are underway for a school eagle staff.
In the meantime, MSS is working its way to reconciliation one delicious bite at a time.