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

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - AN­DREA HILL

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.

KAYLE NEIS

Former prime min­is­ter Paul Martin speaks to re­porters after a talk at the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan in Saska­toon on Thurs­day.

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