There is a buzz around the territory this week about the new residential school curriculum. Community members say they have mixed feelings about the curriculum.
Iman Kassam takes an inside look on the course package and brings us more about this historical curriculum.
The curriculum was launched yesterday morning. Since then, elders and survivors have been tuned in to hear what this course is all about. CKLB spoke with some elders representing the Healing Drum Society, and here is what they had to say:
“I think it’s not enough time. It’s not enough time and it’s too short notice to bring this up at the school, that’s what I think”
“We need to form more support groups. Community wellness workers and the elders to form an elders traditional counseling group so that they can undertake all of these responsibilities.”
“I think that it’s a really good idea because it’s long overdue. I wanted to say that for a long time. Because our people need to know where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going.”
“We’re not familiar with the curriculum nor were we given any information. And there will be expectations of elder within the individual communities to assist with the schools and all that without any sort of foundation.”
The questions and concerns are coming in from all ends of the territory. But here is a little insight into this course package:
The course is titled The Residential School System in Canada, Understanding the Past, Seeking Reconciliation, Building Hope for Tomorrow. Inside is information on the experts that created the program like Paul Andrew, Muriel Betsina, Nellie Cournoyea, Steve Kakfwi, Sarah Jerome, Francois Paulette and several more. Teachers are guided through this package with information on reconciliation, the goal of the unit, how to deal with the impacts of the discussions with the students, and of course a detailed background and timeline on the history of residential schools.
There is a reading list of over a dozen books for the teachers and the students. And the majority of this course package is filled with exercises and activities. There are twelve in total ranging from the education system before residential schools were introduced, to being taken away. The students will hear stories from survivors and talk about how to move towards reconciliation. One activity in the book deconstructs the Prime Ministers apology
[clip from course DVD]
“Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools. The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history.”
Stephen Kakfwi and Francois Paulette host an activity on a DVD about the history of colonization
[clip from course DVD]
“Canada basically adopted a policy in Indian Affairs and the Parliament actually passed a law as well that made it legal for the government to seize children. At first about the age of eight, and then later amended it to say as young as six.”
There are seventy teachers from around the NWT and Nunavut in Yellowknife this week being trained on all of this material. The experts that built this curriculum are giving them a comprehensive, three day learning session.
As the concerns come in from across the territory, a councillor from Health Canada will be speaking to elders about how to deal with the repercussions and effects this course may have on the elders in the communities.
Iman Kassam / CKLB News
At the TRC meeting in Inuvik in 2011, both Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jackson Lafferty and Nunavut Education Minister Eva Aariak, in partnership with the Legacy of Hope, committed to developing a dedicated residential school curriculum. This course pack is a reflection of that commitment.
An Emotional Day at the Launch of the New Residential School Curriculum
Communities to Gather for the Official Launch of the Residential School Curriculum