Alberta Education is providing teachers with lesson plans to help bring First Nations, Métis and Inuit history and contributions to life in classrooms across the province.
All students will learn about the history and legacy of residential schools and the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada as part of the Government of Alberta’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says a government news release dated Oct. 24.
“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,” Education Minister David Eggen says.
“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.”
Lesson plans have been developed for Grades 1-9 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.
“This initiative is part of our work to implement the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which will help bring a renewed relationship between Alberta and Indigenous peoples,” Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan says.
“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.”
Indigenous leaders appreciate the new and relevant subject.
“We are making important progress in our journey towards reconciliation and a shared understanding, now is a time like no other in Alberta history,” says Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, which has communities near Whitecourt.
“We have the opportunity and responsibility to teach the truth and to provide an accurate account of our Canadian society.”
He says the content will expose the challenges of the past.
“These new resources will shed light on our painfully dark history, and like our TRC commission reminds us, there cannot be reconciliation without truth,” Alexis says.
He adds that the lessons are significant pathways to strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities.
“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,” says Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of the Downie Wenjack Foundation.
“Teachers are key to the foundational shift that is beginning right across the country.
“These lesson plans will support teachers as they build connections with and for their students and develop authentic, meaningful learning experiences.”
She says many Albertans are learning the truth about residential schools and Indigenous peoples in Canada for the first time.
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.
Through the Joint Commitment to Action, signed in June 2016, Alberta Education is also collaborating with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Alberta Association of Deans of Education, the Alberta School Boards Association and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure school staff have access to the professional learning opportunities they need to deliver this content.