Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Students will Learn the Impact of Education on Future Generations

Every once in a while, something happens that restores my faith in education in Canada.  While the Twitterverse and mainstream media went ballistic over the non-issue that is the BCTF Teacher Resource about the Northen Gateway Pipeline project, the northern territories of Nunavut and The Northwest Territories were transforming their education systems for the better.  Below is a press release: 

Comprehensive curriculum first of its kind in Canada 

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT (Tuesday, October 2, 2012) A comprehensive curriculum on Residential Schools was launched today at the start of a three day information session for teachers from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Launched by the Honourable Jackson Lafferty, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Honourable Eva Aariak, Minister of Education with the Government of Nunavut at an opening ceremony, this curriculum is the first comprehensive teaching guide of its kind in Canada. Marie Wilson, Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was on hand to receive the first copy of the teacher’s guide and deliver the keynote address.
“A significant part of our history is in this curriculum,” said Minister Lafferty. “The coursework and resources enclosed are the result of exhaustive research and provide a deeper understanding of the impacts of residential schools on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This will give our students insight into the challenges faced by survivors, and a context for healing and reconciliation.”
With support from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Legacy of Hope Foundation, the Residential Schools curriculum is now a key section of the Northwest Territories Northern Studies course and the Nunavut Social Studies course. It covers topics ranging from the history and legacy of residential schools, traditional education and learning, colonialism, assimilation, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Federal apology, the TRC and what reconciliation may look like. It also includes literature and stories of former residential school students shared through audio and video clips, allowing students to learn of both the positive and negative impacts that school life had on individuals.
“The most effective learning tools are those that matter to students, and this curriculum is deeply relevant to students in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. By enabling a deeper understanding of our history, our students will learn the impact of education on future generations,” said Minister Eva Aariak. "This is the first time Nunavut and Northwest Territories have worked together on joint curriculum and we are here today because of the strong partnership between our two territories.”
The curriculum was piloted in March of 2012 with a select number of schools across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
This is wonderful.  I am quite moved by this development.  The current First Nations- focused curriculum in British Columbia is optional, listed as alternatives to equivalent courses, and, I fear, not promoted or encouraged by schools in our current "austere" times.  We have much to be proud of here, there are many programs around the province I find intriguing, and I remain incredibly optimistic and hopeful about the two Aboriginal focus school experiments in BC, but this curriculum implementation in the two territories is what I have been longing for.  Everyone is going to take the unit, it is a requirement for all Canadians to know this important aspect of Canadian history.  I have gone on the record and acknowledged significant achievements in BC around Aboriginal Education, now the Territories have made a significant move forward as well, one that I think BC needs to be considering as well.  Your move BC.

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