Eyre re­grets comments on treaty ed­u­ca­tion

National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA - JEN­NIFER GRA­HAM

REGINA • Saskatchewan’s ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter has apol­o­gized for ref­er­enc­ing her son’s home­work in a speech that ap­peared to ques­tion how treaty ed­u­ca­tion is taught in schools.

Bron­wyn Eyre says she’s sorry if there was con­fu­sion about her po­si­tion and says she is com­mit­ted to treaty ed­u­ca­tion.

“I re­gret bring­ing up my son, and, if there was any mis­un­der­stand­ing that was caused, ab­so­lutely re­gret that as well,” Eyre said Tues­day af­ter speak­ing to the Saskatchewan School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion.

In a speech in the leg­is­la­ture ear­lier this month the min­is­ter said “there has come to be at once too much whole­sale in­fu­sion into the cur­ricu­lum ... (and) too many at­tempts to man­date ma­te­rial into it both from the in­side and by out­side groups.”

She said her son, who is in Grade 8, brought home a his­tory as­sign­ment that sug­gested all pi­o­neers to Canada were ill-mean­ing.

When asked to clar­ify, Eyre said it was about a broader dis­cus­sion of cur­ricu­lum. She sug­gested there might be too much “in­fu­sion” of First Na­tions his­tory in schools.

Eyre told the school boards as­so­ci­a­tion she is com­mit­ted “to the 100 per cent man­dat­ing of treaty ed­u­ca­tion in the prov­ince.”

School boards pres­i­dent Shawn David­son said Eyre’s comments raise con­cerns. The as­so­ci­a­tion passed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for a manda­tory In­dige­nous stud­ies course in Saskatchewan high schools, in ad­di­tion to In­dige­nous teach­ings al­ready in the cur­ricu­lum.

“It’s not about in­fu­sion into every sub­ject mat­ter. It’s about en­sur­ing that things like so­cial stud­ies and his­tory cur­ricu­lums are con­sis­tent with the truth of the his­tory of this coun­try,” David­son said.

He said the his­tory he was taught when he went to school many years ago largely ig­nored treaty rights and In­dige­nous peo­ple.

“That was a dif­fer­ent time and we’ve moved past that time.”

Ile-a-la-Cross Mayor Duane Favel is on the school board as­so­ci­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive and has been ap­pointed to help with a re­view of the en­tire high school cur­ricu­lum. He said he was taken aback by Eyre’s comments.

Favel said the re­marks were dis­turb­ing and cast a pall on good work that has been done for sev­eral years.

Saska­toon mother and writer Liz James started a pe­ti­tion call­ing for Eyre to resign or be re­moved. James said Eyre mis­rep­re­sented the con­tent of her son’s home­work and of treaty ed­u­ca­tion.

James said in­clud­ing First Na­tions his­tory is vi­tal to a child’s ed­u­ca­tion.

“When a child says, ‘From my cul­tural per­spec­tive,’ the key there is that they’ve learned there’s more than one cul­tural lens,” she said.

“Se­condly, the very idea of tak­ing the orig­i­nal peo­ple of this land and seg­re­gat­ing their his­tory out as sep­a­rate from his­tory teaches chil­dren a re­ally pow­er­ful les­son about the pri­or­i­ties in this prov­ince.”

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