Province providing support to teach Indigenous history and culture in schools

Above: Education Minister Eggen announces new resources to support reconciliation and the inclusion of First Nations, Métis and Inuit history, perspectives and contributions into current Grade 1-9 curriculum at Dr. Martha Cohen School in Calgary.

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta Education is providing teachers with lesson plans to help bring First Nations, Métis and Inuit history and contributions to classrooms across the province.

As part of the Government of Alberta’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, all students will learn about the history and legacy of residential schools and the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada.

“It is critical our students understand the history of residential schools, along with the histories and vibrant cultures of Indigenous communities and the role we all have to play in reconciliation,” David Eggen, Minister of Education, said in a release Tuesday. “It’s equally important teachers have the tools they need to feel empowered to teach this important material in the classroom as we work to prepare our students for success.”

The government says lesson plans have been developed for Grades 1 to 9 in English Language Arts, Fine Arts, Science and Social Studies, using identified outcomes in Alberta’s current Programs of Study. They are available as a resource for teachers for use at the discretion of the school jurisdiction, school or teacher.

Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, said the initiative is part of the province’s work to implement the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“These new lesson plans will help ensure that Indigenous and non-Indigenous students learn about our shared history as we move forward together along the path of reconciliation,” Feehan said.

One of the resources in the lesson plans is Secret Path, a multi-media project that includes a solo album by the late Gord Downie, along with a graphic novel and an animated film. The work is based on the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who died while trying to return home after escaping from a residential school.

“Resources like this are what so many eager and committed teachers are looking for as they take their place as change-makers and leaders in reconciliation,” said Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of the Downie Wenjack Foundation. “Teachers are key to the foundational shift that is beginning right across the country. Many Albertans are learning the truth about residential schools and Indigenous peoples in Canada for the first time. These lesson plans will support teachers as they build connections with and for their students and develop authentic, meaningful learning experiences.”

In June 2016, the Government of Alberta announced plans to develop new curriculum across six core subject areas, which will include First Nations, Métis and Inuit content at every grade level.

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