Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre is continuing to defend comments seen by some as an attack on the First Nations curriculum taught in schools.
Indigenous leaders and teachers raised concerns after Eyre suggested there might be too much “infusion” of First Nations history in school curriculum.
The controversy began after Eyre said in a speech that, “there has come to be at once too much wholesale infusion into the curriculum, and at the same time, too many attempts to mandate material into it both from the inside and by outside groups.”
She went on to share a story of her Grade 8 son’s homework, which suggested “all pioneers to Canada were ill-meaning” and “presented as fact that European and European settlers were colonialists, pillagers of the land who knew only buying and selling and didn’t respect Mother Earth.”
Then she told the story of her poor grandparents who settled western Canada.
In the wake of that speech, Eyre said she was promoting her grandparents’ proud European heritage and that she was only trying to say we should examine the “infusion” of First Nations education in all subject areas rather than in a single class.
Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to mandate students learn about treaties, doing so in 2007.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said in a statement treaty rights need to be taught across subjects.
“We are the original people, the First Peoples of these lands, our history and Treaties are crucial,” federation Chief Bobby Cameron said in a news release Wednesday. “This is the reason why it’s vital to teach about the treaties in the classroom and to all levels of Government, who need to be taught the same thing.”
A release from the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation said, “All education partners in Saskatchewan have been working collaboratively to ensure that Saskatchewan students have an opportunity to learn the history of our shared experiences and to learn together on our shared land,”
It also charged Eyre’s comments “could serve to divide communities and create unsafe space for Saskatchewan teachers and students.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with survivors, aboriginal peoples, and educators, to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, treaties, and aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
Asked if she thought such mandatory curriculum should be taught from K-12, Eyre said, “absolutely” and that she is proud of the province’s record of mandating treaty education.
But she continues to question how subjects should be taught and, citing an upcoming curriculum review, particularly how they should be taught in high school.
She said she was raising a “potential discussion” and questioning, “do we have one course in grades 10, 11 and 12? Or do we infuse across curriculum.”
“It’s just a discussion, I think, that we might have and I think it’s appropriate that one can have these serious discussions about such things as curriculum and how these things are best taught, not whether they’re taught. Heaven forbid, that is not the question. It’s how they’re taught,” she said. Bronwyn Eyre takes an oath during a cabinet shuffle at Government House. Play VideoPlayLoaded: 0%Progress: 0%Remaining Time -0:00This is a modal window.Foreground — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-OpaqueBackground — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent TransparentWindow — White Black Red Green Blue Yellow Magenta Cyan — Opaque Semi-Transparent TransparentFont Size 50% 75% 100% 125% 150% 175% 200% 300% 400%Text Edge Style None Raised Depressed Uniform DropshadowFont Family Default Monospace Serif Proportional Serif Monospace Sans-Serif Proportional Sans-Serif Casual Script Small CapsDefaults Done […]
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