Eyre promises province will keep treaty curriculum
Minister not saying if upcoming review should include changes
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.
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...
Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, says a review of Indigenous education is ‘overdue.’