School board takes another step toward Truth and Reconciliation

Beginning in 2023-24, all Grade 11 students at the York Region District School Board will study Indigenous literature in an English course that provides insight into the history, perspectives and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

“Students will continue to gain the important skills taught through Grade 11 English, while learning more about Indigenous perspectives, about Canada, the importance of Truth and Reconciliation, and the relevance of treaty relationships,” says Heather Sears, coordinating superintendent of education of curriculum and instructional services and continuing education.

The course is entitled ‘Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices’ and is currently offered as an option or replacement for Grade 11 English at many high schools across the board.

“The course is a natural extension of the Grade 10 history course,” says Andrew McConnell, coordinator of First Nations, Métis and Inuit education. “By using contemporary works, students will have a chance to see the diversity of experiences and ideas that modern Indigenous people bring to our communities today.”

In a video about the course, McDonnell says it’s the right time to do this.

“We’re committed to Truth and Reconciliation, and we really do recognize that it’s important for all students to learn about histories, cultures and perspectives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.”

The federal government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 to document the history and impacts of the Canadian Residential School System. Truth and Reconciliation reveals a long and painful history behind Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

The Commission’s final report says at least 4,100 children died of neglect at the government-funded schools, which were operated by several Christian denominations.

Photo courtesy of the York Region District School Board.

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