Eyre prom­ises prov­ince will keep treaty cur­ricu­lum

Min­is­ter not say­ing if up­com­ing re­view should in­clude changes

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - D.C. FRASER

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Bron­wyn Eyre says treaty ed­u­ca­tion will re­main “sta­tus quo” in Saskatchewan schools, but she re­fused to com­ment fur­ther on her goals re­gard­ing an up­com­ing re­view of school cur­ricu­lum in­volv­ing First Na­tions is­sues in the class­room.

She has been crit­i­cized for remarks she made dur­ing a re­cent speech, in which she spoke of “too much whole­sale in­fu­sion” across cur­ricu­lum, be­fore us­ing an ex­am­ple of her son’s home­work in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to cre­ate a di­a­logue on how First Na­tions is­sues should be taught in Saskatchewan schools.

Eyre told the leg­is­la­ture her son copied down “as facts” that “Euro­pean set­tlers were colo­nial­ists, pil­lagers of the land.” A copy of the as­sign­ment shows those words were not used. Rather, the as­sign­ment asked stu­dents to dis­cuss dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on land be­tween In­dige­nous and non-In­dige­nous peo­ple.

In the im­me­di­ate wake of the con­tro­ver­sial speech, Eyre has said she was propos­ing the prov­ince con­sider a course ded­i­cated to In­dige­nous his­tory rather than in­fus­ing it into broader cur­ricu­lum.

A re­view of Saskatchewan cur­ricu­lum is ap­par­ently set to be­gin soon, but on Tues­day Eyre shied away from shar­ing her thoughts on the mer­its or faults of a sin­gle course ver­sus in­fu­sion.

In­stead, she told a crowd of Saskatchewan School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion (SSBA) mem­bers that manda­tory treaty ed­u­ca­tion — in place since 2007 — would re­main in place.

In speak­ing with re­porters af­ter, she now says she will leave the cur­ricu­lum re­view “to the com­mit­tees” in a “col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort,” and that she will “wait back to hear from the com­mit­tees in­volved.”

SSBA pres­i­dent Shawn David­son said there was “some con­cern ex­pressed” by mem­bers over Eyre’s com­ments be­ing “in­con­sis­tent” with ex­ist­ing First Na­tions ini­tia­tive part­ner­ships be­tween his or­ga­ni­za­tion and the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry.

“The po­ten­tial move­ment away from in­fu­sion of treaty ed­u­ca­tion within our cur­ricu­lum, that would be the spe­cific point,” he said, when asked what was in­con­sis­tent about her remarks.

He said the cur­ricu­lum re­view is “over­due” and needs to hap­pen, but a manda­tory course on In­dige­nous is­sues would be on top of “the work al­ready go­ing on.”

Duane Favel, the Abo­rig­i­nal coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the SSBA and the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ap­pointee to the cur­ricu­lum re­view com­mit­tee, said Eyre’s com­ments were “dis­turb­ing.”

“It evokes some neg­a­tive emo­tions from the good work we’ve done over the past num­ber of years,” Favel said.

But he added that this could “pos­si­bly be a good op­por­tu­nity” for Eyre to re­flect on her be­liefs and po­si­tion so re­la­tion­ships be­tween stake­hold­ers can be strength­ened.

“We are kind of taken back and shocked, but she’s a rel­a­tively new min­is­ter and we’ll give her the op­por­tu­nity to come back and re­state her po­si­tion and grow a pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with her,” he said.

Eyre said she re­grets bring­ing her son into the mat­ter and re­grets any mis­un­der­stand­ing re­sult­ing from her speech.

“Cer­tainly that wasn’t my in­ten­tion,” she said.

MICHAEL BELL

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Bron­wyn Eyre speaks to re­porters about treaty ed­u­ca­tion af­ter ad­dress­ing the Saskatchewan School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion in Regina on Tues­day. Eyre has been in the spot­light re­cently over com­ments she made about how treaty ed­u­ca­tion in the school sys­tem is taught.

MICHAEL BELL

Shawn David­son, pres­i­dent of the Saskatchewan School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion, says a re­view of In­dige­nous ed­u­ca­tion is ‘over­due.’

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