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Alberta education officials are apologizing after students were asked to identify the positive effects of the residential school system.

An assignment given out at St. Paul Alternative Education Centre, taken from an Alberta Grade 11 social studies correspondence course, asked what a positive effect of residential schools was. The multiple choice answers were: children were away for (sic) home; children learned to read; children were taught manners; and children became civilized.

The material states: “Residential schools had a positive role in teaching students to read and write, and about ways of life other than their own. There were, however, some negative impacts from these residential schools.” Residential schools This question asked in an Alberta correspondence course has sparked outrage. A social media post about the assignment this week sparked immediate outrage.

Glen Brodziak, superintendent for the St. Paul division, says he takes full responsibility for what he calls a “horrible mistake.” He says all staff will be reminded of their duty to check all aspects of an assignment for offensive material.

The province’s education minister also apologized.

“It was a misrepresentation of the past and certainly deeply offensive to people and our efforts to build a better education system here in the province,” David Eggen told CTV Edmonton. In a tweet, he called residential schools “a dark period (in) our history” and called the classroom material an “insensitive resource.”

He vowed to ensure the material was removed from all schools and said the incident highlights the need to update the curriculum, a process now underway. The student who brought the issue to light has been invited to an Indigenous curriculum roundtable being held next week.

The material in question was produced by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre and appears to be at least nine years old. The document lists Phil Fontaine as the chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He served in that role from 1997 to 2000 and then 2003 to 2009.

The federal government has apologized and paid compensation for the dark chapter of residential schools in the nation’s history. Aboriginal children were taken from their homes, stripped of their culture and language and many were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The legacy of residential schools is a dark period our history and we must journey together toward reconciliation. As minister I want to apologize to the students and Albertans exposed to this insensitive resource. #ableg #abed — david eggen (@davideggenAB) September 20, 2018 This week Alberta school tests students about benefits of Residential schools. Next week, oral exam about benefits of oil pipelines. — Drew Hayden Taylor (@TheDHTaylor) September 21, 2018

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