British Columbia must make a greater effort to teach students about the aboriginal residential school experience, says the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC).
With that in mind, the group is asking BCCPAC to join the B.C. School Trustees’ Association in lobbying for age-appropriate information to be added to the Social Studies curriculum at all school levels. A resolution to that effect is to be presented to the BCCPAC annual general meeting May 31-June 1.
Currently, the history of residential schools isn’t taught until Grade 11. However, reform of the entire B.C. curriculum is underway and a first draft for K-9 includes new emphasis on aboriginal history and culture.
VCPAC president John Bird says it doesn’t go far enough.
A promise of more history lessons doesn’t mean the residential school experience will get the attention it deserves, he explained. The VCPAC resolution is intended to correct that, and quotes the following from the interim report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by way of explanation:
“Canadians generally have been led to believe – by what has been taught and not taught in schools – that aboriginal people were and are uncivilized, primitive and inferior, and continue to need to be civilized,” the report says. “They have not been well informed about the nature of the relationship that was established initially between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples and the way that relationship has been shaped over time by colonialism and racism.
“This lack of education and misinformation has led to misunderstanding and, in some cases, hostility between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians on matters of importance.”
VCPAC says it is time to support first nations and reconciliation through education.
Justice Murray Sinclair, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has asked every province and territory to make residential schools mandatory learning. “We told them to change the way they teach about aboriginal people to ensure all children going into public schools learn what the government did not young aboriginal children for 130 years,” he told CBC News.
A survey by the broadcaster found that most Canadian students receive some information about residential schools but it wasn’t mandatory learning.
But that’s beginning to change.
Last week, Alberta announced that mandatory content on residential schools is being added to its K-12 curriculum. “Starting with the youngest members of our society, Alberta commits to residential school survivors, their families and communities that Albertans will hear your stories and know your truths,” Aboriginal Relations Minister Frank Oberle told a Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing.
In B.C., the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the First Nations Schools Association have developed curriculum as part of the reconciliation process and is in the process of sharing it with teachers and administrators around the province.
“The draft curriculum, which is for Grades 5, 10 and 11/12, is BC-specific and care has been taken to ensure that the literature, primary sources and video interviewees are largely from BC,” FNESC says on its website.
B.C. school trustees passed resolutions at their 2013 annual general meeting also calling for age-appropriate teachings about residential schools to be included in the curriculum.
Follow this link to find the full resolution and to contribute to the resolution discussion in advance of the AGM.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.