History of residential schools to be covered in classrooms

Aboriginal history, culture, and perspectives have been integrated in the new Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum.

British Columbia students of all ages will soon receive enhanced instruction in First Nations issues as part of the provincial government’s commitment to promoting reconciliation with aboriginal peoples.

According to a media release issued June 16, the provincial education curriculum has been revised to ensure that the history and legacy of the residential schools is more thoroughly covered in B.C. classrooms. Aboriginal history, culture, and perspectives have been integrated in the new Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum, which provincial officials say will be released soon.

The initiative is one of several taken in recent years by the province, and officials say it reaffirms B.C.’s commitment to reconciliation.

“Given our history and the impacts of the federal Indian residential school system, reconciliation was never going to be an easy journey,” said John Rustad, MLA for Nechako-Lakes and B.C.’s Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “But our commitment to reconciliation with aboriginal people is unwavering and we are making significant progress.”

“With education comes positive change,” added B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender. “Through the revised curriculum, we will be promoting greater understanding, empathy, and respect for aboriginal history and culture among students and their families.”

The provincial announcement came in response to the recent recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Several of the commission’s 94 “Calls to Action” focus on the need to provide Canadians with more information about residential schools and the damage they inflicted on First Nations peoples.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established as part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. In six years, the commission’s three members – Hon. Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson, and Chief Wilton Littlechild – heard more than 6750 survivor and witness statements. When complete, their final report will consist of six volumes and more than two million words.