RES­IG­NA­TION PE­TI­TION GROWS

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX MACPHER­SON With files from D.C. Fraser amacpher­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

SASKA­TOON As of Tues­day af­ter­noon, more than 1,200 peo­ple had signed an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for Bron­wyn Eyre to re­sign or be re­moved from her po­si­tion as Saskatchewan’s ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter amid an on­go­ing con­tro­versy over treaty ed­u­ca­tion in the prov­ince.

The pe­ti­tion ar­gues that Eyre should step down be­cause she demon­strated a lack of un­der­stand­ing of In­dige­nous is­sues while us­ing her ap­par­ent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of her son’s Grade 8 home­work as­sign­ment as the ba­sis for broad changes to the cur­ricu­lum.

“Taken to­gether, these ac­tions rep­re­sent in­com­pe­tence in her role, as well as an at­tempted era­sure of our his­tory of colo­nial­ism in Canada,” states the Change.org pe­ti­tion, which had col­lected 1,570 sig­na­tures by 6:40 p.m. Tues­day.

Liz James, a Saska­toon-based mother and blog­ger, said she was in­spired to launch the pe­ti­tion af­ter grow­ing alarmed by Eyre’s com­ments in the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly on Nov. 1 about her son’s home­work as­sign­ment.

Eyre told the leg­is­la­ture that her son copied down “as facts” that “Euro­pean set­tlers were colo­nial­ists, pil­lagers of the land.” A copy of the as­sign­ment and class notes ob­tained by Post­media News did not use those words.

In­stead, the as­sign­ment asked stu­dents to dis­cuss the dif­fer­ence be­tween In­dige­nous and non-In­dige­nous per­spec­tives on the land.

Eyre, the MLA for Stone­bridge-Dakota, later said she was sim­ply propos­ing that the prov­ince con­sider the no­tion of a course ded­i­cated to In­dige­nous his­tory and cul­ture rather than “in­fus­ing” it into the broader cur­ricu­lum.

James said that is the wrong ap­proach.

“To me, that fail­ure to see ev­ery stu­dent in ev­ery desk’s per­spec­tive as equally valid and equally core is a huge prob­lem,” James said in an in­ter­view on Tues­day.

“When she says we can just pull those things out and present them later as In­dige­nous con­tent, that dis­plays a com­plete in­abil­ity to un­der­stand how cur­ricu­lum works — that it doesn’t just mat­ter what’s pre­sented, it mat­ters where (it’s pre­sented).”

Speak­ing to re­porters Tues­day morn­ing in Regina, Eyre de­clined to com­ment on calls for her res­ig­na­tion and in­stead re­it­er­ated a state­ment is­sued Mon­day in which she com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion is taught in ev­ery school in the prov­ince.

“I re­gret any con­fu­sion over that,” Eyre said, re­fer­ring to her com­ments in the leg­is­la­ture. “I cer­tainly re­gret ref­er­enc­ing my son. He is 12 and, as I men­tioned yes­ter­day, I sim­ply don’t want to draw him in any fur­ther.”

In the state­ment re­leased Mon­day, Eyre said the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment “was the first in Canada to im­ple­ment treaty ed­u­ca­tion and that she “100 per cent” sup­ports “treaty ed­u­ca­tion taught in ev­ery school in Saskatchewan, and I want to build on that foun­da­tion.”

Saskatchewan Lib­eral Leader Tara Ji­jian also called on Eyre to re­sign, re­leas­ing a state­ment say­ing the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter has “lost the trust we all so des­per­ately need and want for our kids, and when a min­is­ter loses that, res­ig­na­tion is the right thing to do.”

Sask. Party lead­er­ship can­di­date Scott Moe, whose cam­paign Eyre has en­dorsed, is­sued a state­ment say­ing the min­is­ter “will have the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss and clar­ify the in­tent of her state­ments made around treaty ed­u­ca­tion in our class­rooms.

“I be­lieve that the his­tory of our prov­ince in­cludes the con­tri­bu­tions of First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple. We can only be stronger as a prov­ince as we con­tinue to learn and gain an un­der­stand­ing of our past,” Moe’s state­ment read.

The Saskatchewan NDP’s ed­u­ca­tion critic, mean­while, called on Eyre to ex­plain her­self and apol­o­gize af­ter at­tempt­ing to use her ap­par­ent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the home­work as­sign­ment as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for chang­ing the cur­ricu­lum.

“I think the min­is­ter re­ally eroded trust, has shown some re­ally poor judg­ment with re­gard to this is­sue,” Carla Beck, the MLA for Regina Lake­view, told Post­media News on Mon­day.

James said she was sur­prised how many peo­ple had dis­cov­ered and signed the pe­ti­tion, but ad­mit­ted she does not have the po­lit­i­cal ex­per­tise to know if it will be ef­fec­tive.

“I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant that we stand up, though, and say that un­der­stand­ing and com­mit­ment to treaty ed­u­ca­tion in an in­te­grated way is not op­tional, and is re­ally valu­able.”

It’s re­ally im­por­tant that we .... say that un­der­stand­ing and com­mit­ment to treaty ed­u­ca­tion in an in­te­grated way is not op­tional.

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