A new requirement that all students complete Indigenous-focused coursework in order to graduate is being proposed by the B.C. government.
Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says the possible curriculum changes were determined in collaboration with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and guided by the the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“This new requirement will deepen students’ understanding of the experiences, cultures, histories and knowledges of Indigenous Peoples. This will help us to understand the truths of our shared history, while also building knowledge so all students feel a sense of responsibility for our collective future.”
Under the proposed model, students who are currently in Grade 10 would be the first group to complete this new requirement, starting in September 2023. The new requirement will apply to all students in B.C. public, independent and offshore schools.
Public consultation is expected to begin Monday (March 7) so the province can determine what information and resources students, parents and schools may need to meet this new requirement.
FNESC president Tyrone McNeil said the proposal comes after years of advocating for this important change.
“Building awareness and understanding of First Peoples’ perspectives, cultures and histories among all B.C. students will serve as an important step toward reconciliation and an effective strategy to combat racism within the province to the benefit of all British Columbians.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 62 includes a call to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
In November 2019, B.C. redesigned its K-12 curriculum to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and promote partnerships between local First Nations and school districts in the classroom.