Antidote to ignorance

Broader Indigenous curriculum may be developed

A full curriculum of Indigenous content may be explored for schools in Saskatchewan.

“This is a bit of a crossroads in terms of how we go about in developing curriculum. Whether it’s an infusion or continuum model or whether it’s around specific courses,” said Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan minister of education.

Infusion would mean incorporating a subject into other classes instead of introducing a new class, according to Eyre.

“It’s very important that we learn about the history of the Indigenous people to Canada. This will build relationships with the Europeans as well as the students,” said Jeff Capo, chairperson for the Wakamow Aboriginal Community Association.

Capo said students would benefit from understanding the history of First Nations people.

“(They’ll) understand the history of the original inhabitants of Canada, of Turtle Island. It’ll build those relationships. It’s something that’s been needed for a long time,” he said. “(They should) learn of the history of Canada of it’s people of the country overall.”

He said the country is full of racial tensions and it’s a result of ignorance and misunderstanding between cultures.

“Racism is alive here in Saskatchewan,” he said.

The minister said the government was proud to be the first in Canada to implement Treaty education, but for many, it does not go far enough.

Claire Kreuger, Grade 8 French immersion teacher for Palliser Heights School supports a new Indigenous curriculum.

“I think a focus on Indigenous content would be really useful,” she said on Wednesday.

“Treaty education is not just Indigenous content because Treaties involve the British Crown as well as Indigenous nations,” said Kreuger. “There is a lot of history within that curriculum. We often link the things we’re learning about Indigenous nations to our Treaty responsibilities.”

She said every year students learn something new in the Treaty 4 class, whether it’s actually new to them or something they already knew but from a different angle.

“This past year my students went out to the Treaty 4 gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle,” Kreuger said. “To actually go to Fort Qu’Appelle where the Treaty was signed, to see all the teepees to see how important this Treaty is and continues to be was really mind-boggling.”

Kreuger said students could benefit from learning about the different Indigenous groups in the province.

“I think to capitalize on the really unique aspect of where we live in Canada and really focus on Indigenous content and world views, I think we can learn a lot from that. We’re really uniquely placed to learn that here,” she said.

According to Statistics Canada’s most recent census data, 16 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population is Indigenous. In 2016, the province was home to approximately 100,000 First Nations individuals, 50,000 Métis people and about 300 Inuit.

“Anytime we can give students different world views and different understandings, I think we can have better overall understanding of how the world works,” said Kreuger.