Canada must teach more on Indigenous issues: former PM
‘We’ve got to do a lot better than we have,’ he said following a speech at the U of S
Former prime minister Paul Martin says Canadians need to do “a lot better” in teaching students about First Nations issues.
Martin, who served as prime minister from 2003 to 2006, was in Saskatoon on Thursday to give a talk at the University of Saskatchewan as part of a series of lectures from former prime ministers.
Since leaving office, Martin has launched the Martin Family Initiative, which aims to improve elementary and secondary school education outcomes for Indigenous students. He spoke at the U of S about the initiative’s work and the state of Indigenous education in Canada before answering a few questions from reporters.
Martin was asked to share his thoughts on recent comments by Saskatchewan Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre, who earlier this month said the province should consider offering a specific course on Indigenous history in high school “as opposed to maybe more infusion” of the material in other classes.
Martin would not say if he supports that view.
“I think that we have got a lot to learn in terms of the history of this country and in terms of the role that Indigenous Canada has played and can play. And I just think that we’ve got to make sure that Canadians are fully aware,” he said.
“You can never have too much learning, but I just think that we’re at such an important point in our history right now that we’ve got to do a lot better than we have.”
Martin said First Nations represent “the single most important social issue we face as a country” and that all parts of Canada, including Saskatchewan, have “a lot more to do.”
“Nobody is where we have to be, but I think that when we take a look at the University of Saskatchewan there really is an example that a lot of people could follow,” he said.
Former prime minister Paul Martin speaks to reporters after a talk at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon on Thursday.