To mark the start of Treaties Recognition Week, the Anishinabek Nation is launching two new elementary books to explain treaties.
The books — Alex Shares his Wampum Belt and Dakota Talks about Treaties — were written by author and educator Kelly Crawford of M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. The illustrations were done by artist Donald Chretien of Nipissing First Nation, Ont.
On Monday, a ceremony was held at Shawanosowe School in Whitefish River First Nation, Ont.
"We really see this as being key because as we went through school, very little has been told about First Nation history," Patrick Madahbee, grand council chief said.
"Something like this is going to be good for all the kids to learn about the real history of the development of Canada."
Learning with Lego
One story deals with a child named Alex sharing his experience of recreating the 1764 Treaty of Niagara Belt with Lego.
"That Lego kit is part of the … teacher kit that we created," Crawford said. "There's different lesson plans around that."
She said Dakota's story recounts an experience of attending the Treaty of Niagara 250th Anniversary. Crawford personally attended the event with her daughter Dakota, who was only one of three children there.
"It was really a moment of looking at our history … and being very excited that my children could participate."
"But then I was also sad at the same time, because there were only three children present. It makes me really question how we're really looking at our history and really understanding it," Crawford said.
Adding more resources to the classroom
The Anishinabek Nation says the new books are a complement to the We are all Treaty People teachers kit that is being used by more than 2,000 English schools and 1,000 French schools in Ontario.
"These new books are great resources for elementary teachers to use in their classrooms," Madahbee said.
"It will help students at a younger age learn about the treaty relationship. Teachers will be getting out the message that treaties are legally binding and sacred agreements that set out the rights, responsibilities and relationships of First Nations and federal and provincial governments."