Ontario mandates Indigenous curriculum for Grades 1 to 3

By Lucas Casaletto

The Ontario government announced Wednesday they’re expanding First Nation, Métis and Inuit content and learning in the elementary school curriculum.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education says it’s committed to complete the full spectrum of learning across this elementary curriculum, addressing the current gap in Grades 1 and 3, by September 2023.

The “Indigenous-focused learning” will expand on the role of family and resilience in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and nations, as well as the residential school system and the reclamation and revitalization of identity, language, culture and community connections.

Education minister Stephen Lecce says the timeline and the curriculum development process are being co-developed with Indigenous partners “to reflect meaningful collaboration while recognizing the urgency of this content in learning.”

“We are committed to recognizing the contributions of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities and nations to our province and country while learning their histories and cultures,” said Minister Lecce.

“Including Indigenous content and voices in Ontario’s curriculum – along with mandatory learning on residential schools – is a meaningful way that we can address issues of racism, Indigenous student well-being and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are also investing more to support Indigenous students, with the aim of boosting graduation rates and enabling economic opportunity for the next generation of Indigenous students.”

Joanne Meyer, the chief operating officer of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the announcement would bring the province’s curriculum in line with recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“This would ensure that age-appropriate mandatory curriculum content pertaining to residential schools, treaties and the lives of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples is made available to all students,” she said.

As it stands, the province’s curriculum includes mandatory learning in social studies, Grades 4 to 6, and history in Grades 7, 8, and 10, including mandatory learning on residential schools in Grades 8 and 10, introduced in 2018.

Lecce says Ontario’s ministry is investing just under $24 million in funding in targeted supports for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.

This year, September 30th marks the first “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation” in Canada. The day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

The Canadian government says public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is vital for the reconciliation process.

There is a call for more searches at former residential schools across the country following the heartbreaking discovery of the bodies of 215 children on the grounds of a facility in Kamloops, B.C.

With files from The Canadian Press

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