Eyre needs ‘better un­der­stand­ing’ of First Na­tions, child ad­vo­cate says

Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter should talk to Indige­nous peo­ple: O’S oup

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - BETTY ANN ADAM

The first Indige­nous per­son ap­pointed as Saskatchewan’s Ad­vo­cate for Chil­dren and Youth says Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Bron­wyn Eyre “needs to gain a better un­der­stand­ing” of how Saskatchewan’s his­tory is taught.

Corey O’ Soup, a mem­ber of the Key First Na­tion, ex­pressed dis­may at Eyre’s re­cent pub­lic com­ment sug­gest­ing there is too much “in­fu­sion” of First Na­tions his­tory in school cur­ricu­lum.

“She needs to learn a lit­tle bit more be­fore she makes those state­ments ... I think she needs to maybe chal­lenge her­self to sit down with some of our peo­ple and get a better un­der­stand­ing of what’s hap­pen­ing out there,” he said.

Indige­nous chil­dren have been trained in the dom­i­nant Eu­ro­pean per­spec­tive for hun­dreds of years in Canada and it’s time for First Na­tions and Metis per­spec­tives to be pre­sented ad­e­quately too, he said in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day at the Re­vi­tal­iz­ing Our Griev­ing Spirit con­fer­ence at Saska­toon’s In­dian and Metis Friend­ship Cen­tre.

O’ Soup re­ferred to the rec­ol­lec­tions of Metis Se­na­tor Nora Cum­mings, who told the gath­er­ing that as a child in school, she was told to stand up and was pointed out as a sav­age.

“That’s what they were taught. We need to be taught some­thing dif­fer­ent ... I be­lieve it’s OK for our non-Indige­nous chil­dren and youth to learn our his­tory.”

O’ Soup, who worked as teacher with at-risk youth in Saska­toon and then in pol­icy with the Fed­er­a­tion of Sovereign Indige­nous Na­tions, was hired as Ad­vo­cate for Chil­dren and Youth last year, after serv­ing three years as spe­cial ad­viser to the min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion and deputy min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion.

“When I was there, our goal was in­fu­sion. Our pre­vi­ous min­is­ter sup­ported that and we worked with our deputy min­is­ter’s of­fice and I gave him lots of ad­vice and that was my job, to teach them, en­cour­age them and to ad­vise them,” he said.

O’ Soup said Eyre’s sug­ges­tion that a sin­gle class may be the way to teach Indige­nous is­sues looks to him like she isn’t aware that in­fu­sion is a de­lib­er­ate ex­pan­sion of the Abo­rig­i­nal stud­ies classes that al­ready ex­isted. In­fu­sion was needed, he said.

If we don’t specif­i­cally men­tion First Na­tion and Metis peo­ple in the cur­ricu­lum, in the doc­u­ments, in the out­comes, in the in­di­ca­tors, then we get for­got­ten and we get left out.

“Hope­fully we’re not tak­ing a huge step back­wards,” he said.

In his cur­rent po­si­tion, O’ Soup has al­ready made ed­u­ca­tion one of four ar­eas of em­pha­sis and is ex­pected to re­lease a re­port later this year.

Saskatchewan Party lead­er­ship can­di­date Ken Chevel­day­off, who at­tended Thurs­day’s con­fer­ence, said “ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent idea on things.

“Those are her per­sonal com­ments and they’re not gov­ern­ment pol­icy … I think we have to look at the best way to teach his­tory in our prov­ince, whether it’s with in­fu­sion as the de­bate is right now or in a spe­cific class.”

BETTY ANN ADAM

Saskatchewan’s Ad­vo­cate for Chil­dren and Youth, Corey O’Soup, said Indige­nous his­tory needs to be in­fused through­out the school cur­ricu­lum.

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