Indigenous Perspectives and History: The Role of Education

Indigenous Perspectives and History: The Role of Education
Indigenous Perspectives and History: The Role of Education

Since 2016, in British Columbia, Indigenous perspectives have been integrated into all subjects taught, from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

I think British Columbia remains a leader in Indigenous education [au Canada], believes assistant professor of education at the University of British Columbia and specialist in the decolonization of education, Shannon Leddy.

However, the province can go further to decolonize the education received as much by young British Columbians as by their future teachers, she adds.

I think we need teachers to focus on the traditional territories in which they find themselves. There is not a square centimeter in Canada that is not part of a traditional territory, souligne Shannon Leddy.

Things are improving, however, agrees the professor at the Faculty of Education of Simon Fraser University (SFU), Isabelle Côté, who is preparing a doctorate on the subject.

Our future teachers, when they arrive for their internship in schools, are often more informed than teachers who have already been in post for several years., she explains, adding that there is also more training and resources available for those already in place.

She also referred to the fact that many school boards and districts have appointed individuals responsible for integrating Indigenous perspectives into schools.

We are moving forward, but there is still a lot, a lot, a lot to do.

A quote from:Isabelle Côté, teacher at the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University

The very structure of the schools is problematic, explains Isabelle Côté, since much of the learning from Indigenous perspectives takes place outside.

When you have 55-minute high school classes, you can’t spend a day outside to go, for example, on the river and learn to integrate biology, environmental studies and history., she illustrates.

For its part, the Ministry of Education is committed to constantly improving the school program for students from kindergarten to 12e year to ensure that it faithfully and respectfully reflects the rich history of the Indigenous peoples of British Columbia.

We will continue to work with the First Nations Education Steering Committee as well as all rights holders as we determine the path forward., the ministry said in a statement.

Elsewhere in Canada

In Alberta, Jason Kenney’s government proposed an overhaul of its education program a few months ago. Since then, consultations have taken place to develop this new program. Its official establishment is scheduled for September 2022.

The initial proposal for the Kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculume year does not mention in particular the negative consequences of colonization or Native residential schools, judging that the history of residential schools is too sad for young children.

A decision decried by the First Nations

We all know that federal extermination policies like residential schools stem from the Indian Act, so if we’re going to right the wrongs, this is the place to start., wrote Billy Joe Laboucan, the Grand Chief in Education of Treaty 8, which includes the Dene and the Cree, in a press release.

In Quebec, the Ministry of Education ensures that the subject is well taught and that the courses have been revised in response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The non-exhaustive list of changes made includes changes in the list of historical facts to include greater consideration of the Indigenous perspective on certain significant events, such as the residential school period., writes a spokesperson for the ministry.

According to the education program, students enter the residential school period starting in the third and fourth years of secondary school.

With information from Raluca Tomulescu and François Joly

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