Grand chief, Elders take PRSD to class on Treaty 8

Peace River School Division received a flag Oct. 24 from Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta. Standing, left-right, are Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, Woodland Cree Nation Elder Kathleen Laboucan, PRSD board chair Delainah Walker, Whitefish Lake First Nation Elder Danny Laboucan and PRSD Supt. Adam Murray.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Peace River School Division trustees and other division leaders appreciated a valuable lesson about Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta.
PRSD leaders learned about the true spirit and intent of treaties from a team from Treaty 8 on Oct. 24, says a PRSD news release Oct. 26.
“We were honoured that Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey guided our learning,” says Delainah Walker, who chairs the PRSD school board. The day ended when Noskey presented Walker with a Treaty 8 flag.
“It was presented to show his support for the board’s initiative to honour the Treaty 8 flag to show our respect for the Sovereign Nations of Treaty 8 and our understanding that we are all Treaty people.” Walker says.
Treaty 8 Elders Kathleen Laboucan, of Woodland Cree Nation, and Danny Laboucan, of Whitefish Lake First Nation, joined Noskey, as well as Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta CAO Margo Auger and chief strategy officer Melissa Gillis.
Board trustees, Supt. Adam Murray, division-level leaders and representatives from all schools participated in the meaningful learning experience.
“We also appreciated the presence of local community leaders from First Nations and the Metis Nation who have been supportive of our board’s initiative to honour the Treaty 8 flag and the Metis flag at all our schools,” Walker says.
One valuable point PRSD participants learned is the significance of the fact that Treaty 8 First Nations in Alberta is an organization of Sovereign Nations, which is just as true today as is was when the treaties were first signed, she notes.
“Although the First Nations who entered into Treaty 8 had been assured they would be able to continue their traditional way of life, we learned about the succession of government acts, policies and laws that eroded and undermined the promise,” Walker says.
The richness of First Nations cultures, the deep connection of identity with the land and the damage caused by residential schools resonated in words spoken by the Treaty 8 representatives.
Teachers, other school leaders and community members at the event all expressed their gratitude for what they learned.
All those who attended are committed to work together to strengthen the understanding of treaties within the school division by continuing to invite Elders into the schools to share their knowledge, giving students access to Indigenous ways of learning, including opportunities to learn on the land and providing further education about Treaty 8 and other treaties in Canada that were signed between First Nations and the monarch.

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