Treaty ed­u­ca­tion an on­go­ing project, says prov­ince

Nova Sco­tia is ac­tu­ally do­ing some­thing about ed­u­ca­tion rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that’s more than just land ac­knowl­edge­ment.


At a Hal­i­fax Re­gional School board meet­ing last June, a mo­tion was ap­proved to ac­knowl­edge that HRSB schools oc­cupy un­ceded Mi’kmaw territory.

South Shore-Bed­ford board rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jennifer Raven, who put for­ward the mo­tion, also an­nounced that the depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment would be in­tro­duc­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion into the prov­ince’s ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum come Oc­to­ber, to co­in­cide with Mi’kmaq his­tory month.

That’s not exactly ac­cu­rate says Wy­att White, di­rec­tor of Mi’kmaq Ser­vices. Oc­to­ber has come and gone and Mi’kmaq treaty his­tory has yet to be fully im­ple­mented in Nova Sco­tian schools. The prov­ince’s com­mit­ment to do so re­mains a lengthy process.

The process of in­te­grat­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion into the cur­ricu­lum is part of the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment’s multi-year “Ac­tion Plan,” de­vel­oped in 2015, that prom­ises to “in­clude the lan­guage, his­tory and cul­ture of Aca­di­ans, African Nova Sco­tians, Gaels and Mi’kmaq, in­clud­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion, in the Grade pri­mary to 12 cur­ricu­lum.”

Cur­rently, Grades 7 and 8 are un­der­go­ing this in­te­gra­tion “re­vamp­ing.” The prov­ince has al­ready up­graded its kider­garten to Grade 5 cur­ricu­lum, ac­cord­ing to spokesper­son Heather Fair­bairn.

Work to re­vamp Grades 7 and 8 be­gin­ning this month could have been the cause of Raven’s con­fu­sion in her com­ments to the me­dia back in June, sug­gests Fair­bairn.

Ac­cord­ing to White, the depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment has been work­ing with Mi’kmaq Ser­vices to stream­line cur­ricu­lum and de­velop new cour­ses; work­ing with Mi’kmaw Kina’mat­newey and other groups to in­te­grate treaty ed­u­ca­tion in all parts of the cur­ricu­lum while en­sur­ing there’s a Mi’kmaq per­spec­tive at the ta­ble.

“The as­pects of treaty ed­u­ca­tion are in­cor­po­rated at ev­ery grade level based on a cur­ricu­lum frame­work for treaty ed­u­ca­tion that we had de­vel­oped,” says White. “Th­ese are de­vel­op­men­tally ap­pro­pri­ate ways to in­cor­po­rate cer­tain as­pects of treaty ed­u­ca­tion based on the age of the stu­dent.”

The changes in Nova Sco­tia’s cur­ricu­lum come from the pro­vin­cial depart­ment’s man­date, which fo­cuses on “cre­at­ing a more cul­tur­ally-re­spon­sive ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to sup­port in­clu­sive stu­dent learn­ing.”

To do so, the prov­ince is look­ing to the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Calls to Ac­tion to guide it through the process.

There are 34 Calls to Ac­tion that re­fer to ed­u­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cen­tre for Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion’s re­search, 10 of those 34 calls have been acted upon by the federal gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment of Nova Sco­tia, mean­while, has started act­ing on nine of the pos­si­ble 18 calls that the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process puts un­der pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing pub­lish­ing re­ports on Indige­nous chil­dren in cus­tody, the cre­ation of Mi’kmaw Fam­ily and Chil­dren’s Ser­vices and main­tain­ing “an an­nual com­mit­ment to Abo­rig­i­nal ed­u­ca­tion is­sues.”

“I am con­fi­dent that what emerges as the new cur­ricu­lum for Grades 7 and 8 next year will have as­pects of treaty ed­u­ca­tion in­fused through­out,” says White.

“And as we work into high school, we’ll keep fol­low­ing the frame­work we’ve de­vel­oped to en­sure that we’re on track with the covenants of in­te­grat­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion from pri­mary all the way to [Grade] 12.”


Premier Stephen McNeil, Chief Leroy Denny and Chief Robert Gloade sign a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on treaty ed­u­ca­tion in 2015.

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