Teach­ing Indige­nous his­tory, cul­tures in schools

The McLeod River Post - - Education Matters -

Al­berta Ed­u­ca­tion is pro­vid­ing teach­ers with les­son plans to help bring First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit his­tory and con­tri­bu­tions to life in class­rooms across the province.

All stu­dents will learn about the his­tory and legacy of res­i­den­tial schools and the his­tory of First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit in Canada as part of the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta’s com­mit­ment to the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

“It is crit­i­cal our stu­dents un­der­stand the his­tory of res­i­den­tial schools, along with the his­to­ries and vi­brant cul­tures of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and the role we all have to play in rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. It’s equally im­por­tant teach­ers have the tools they need to feel em­pow­ered to teach this im­por­tant ma­te­rial in the class­room as we work to pre­pare our stu­dents for suc­cess.”

David Eggen, Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Les­son plans have been de­vel­oped for Grades 1 to 9 in English Lan­guage Arts, Fine Arts, Sci­ence and So­cial Stud­ies, us­ing iden­ti­fied out­comes in Al­berta’s cur­rent Pro­grams of Study. They are avail­able as a re­source for teach­ers for use at the dis­cre­tion of the school ju­ris­dic­tion, school or teacher.

“This ini­tia­tive is part of our work to im­ple­ment the prin­ci­ples of the United Na­tions Dec­la­ra­tion on the Rights of Indige­nous Peo­ples which will help bring a re­newed re­la­tion­ship be­tween Al­berta and Indige­nous peo­ples. These new les­son plans will help en­sure that Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous stu­dents learn about our shared his­tory as we move for­ward to­gether along the path of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Richard Fee­han, Min­is­ter of Indige­nous Relations

“We are mak­ing im­por­tant progress in our jour­ney to­wards rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and a shared un­der­stand­ing. Now is a time like no other in Al­berta his­tory. We have the op­por­tu­nity and re­spon­si­bil­ity to teach the truth and to pro­vide an ac­cu­rate ac­count of our Cana­dian so­ci­ety. These new re­sources will shed light on our painfully dark his­tory, and like our TRC com­mis­sion re­minds us, there can­not be rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with­out truth. An­nounce­ments like to­day’s are sig­nif­i­cant path­ways to strength­en­ing re­la­tion­ships with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.”

Tony Alexis, Chief, Alexis Nakota Sioux Na­tion “Re­sources like this are what so many ea­ger and com­mit­ted teach­ers are looking for as they take their place as change-mak­ers and lead­ers in rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Teach­ers are key to the foun­da­tional shift that is be­gin­ning right across the coun­try. Many Al­ber­tans are learn­ing the truth about res­i­den­tial schools and Indige­nous peo­ples in Canada for the first time. These les­son plans will sup­port teach­ers as they build con­nec­tions with and for their stu­dents and de­velop au­then­tic, mean­ing­ful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Char­lene Bear­head, co-chair of the Downie Wen­jack Foun­da­tion

“This is a great first step to hon­our com­mit­ments made to in­clude First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit per­spec­tives across sub­jects for Al­berta’s stu­dents. These les­son plans will bring rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to life in the class­room and will high­light the sig­nif­i­cance of res­i­den­tial schools and treaties.”

Val McDougall, Tsuut’ina ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor “I have seen the mean­ing­ful role that teach­ers can play in bring­ing greater un­der­stand­ing of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to stu­dents. I’m thrilled to have new re­sources and ac­tiv­i­ties to draw from that are cur­rent, mean­ing­ful and re­spect­ful of First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit per­spec­tives.”

Mea­gan Lund­gren, teacher, Dr. Martha Co­hen School, Cal­gary Board of Ed­u­ca­tion

In June 2016, the Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta an­nounced plans to de­velop new cur­ricu­lum across six core sub­ject ar­eas, which will in­clude First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit con­tent at ev­ery grade level.

Through the Joint Com­mit­ment to Ac­tion, signed in June 2016, Al­berta Ed­u­ca­tion is also col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Al­berta Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, the Al­berta Re­gional Pro­fes­sional De­vel­op­ment Con­sor­tia, the Col­lege of Al­berta School Su­per­in­ten­dents, the Al­berta As­so­ci­a­tion of De ans of Ed­u­ca­tion, the Al­berta School Boards As­so­ci­a­tion and the Na­tional Cen­tre for Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to en­sure school staff have ac­cess to the pro­fes­sional learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties they need to de­liver this con­tent.

One of the re­sources iden­ti­fied within the les­son plans is Se­cret Path, a multi-me­dia project that in­cludes a solo al­bum by the late Gord Downie, along with a graphic novel and an an­i­mated film, based on the story of Chanie Wen­jack, a young boy who died while try­ing to re­turn home af­ter es­cap­ing from a res­i­den­tial school. Downie, the front­man of the Trag­i­cally Hip, passed away Oct. 17 af­ter bat­tling brain can­cer. He ded­i­cated much of his ca­reer to un­cov­er­ing and telling sto­ries of Cana­dian his­tory. Ear­lier this year, he was in­ducted as a mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada for his work rais­ing aware­ness of Indige­nous is­sues. Downie’s work con­tin­ues to bring at­ten­tion to the his­tory and legacy of res­i­den­tial schools and will serve as a re­source for teach­ers, stu­dents and all Cana­di­ans as we con­tinue on the jour­ney to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

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