Indigenous History Is A Necessity
Kristie Gomuwka is the Alberta Party's Shadow Minister for Indigenous Relations. In this piece, she writes on the necessity for keeping a rich and robust Indigenous history component in the province's K-12 curriculum. Originally published in the Lakeside Leader.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) would like you to believe that the relationship with Indigenous communities in Alberta is on strong and stable ground. They would like you to believe that the health and welfare of Indigenous Alberta is a top priority. Trust and respect is a mutual feeling.
The UCP government hand picked a review panel that was to provide recommendations on changes to the Kindergarten to Grade 4 school curriculum, part of a re-do of the curriculum revision work developed by the former NDP government. The intent of the UCP overhaul was to delete what was seen to be left leaning ideologies to be strung through the curriculum; instead, the review panel decided to recommend that the curriculum delete the history of residential schools from being taught in our schools. This is no longer about a right leaning curriculum or a left leaning curriculum. This is now about erasing the stories of many Indigenous Albertans and their rightful place in our children’s history books.
Today was an illustration of how fragile that trust and respect is among the Indigenous communities in Alberta. One giant step backwards in reconciliation. How can a government sit across the table from a group of Indigenous leaders and offer economic opportunities to Indigenous communities and then align themselves with individuals that want to delete their story?
The UCP spent an entire day spinning their way out of this mess by stating over and over again that these are only recommendations and that the pen of the curriculum is not held by this review committee. The UCP government appointed this group. They were well aware of the values and positions that these committee members held. Although this leaked document may find itself on the cutting room floor and may not become part of the final curriculum it does offer insight into the individuals that the UCP government reaches out to when they are creating critically important work such as a school curriculum.
If the UCP wants to regain the trust of the Indigenous people of Alberta they must act quickly to fire the review panel and immediately reject all of their recommendations. Anything less than that will result in a fractured relationship that will not mend and another generation of children who will not be taught about the impacts of residential schools in Canada.