In 1940, R. A. Hoey, the superintendent of welfare and training for Indian Affairs, recommended the closure of the Roman Catholic school in Brocket, Alta. It remained in operation until 1961.
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is inviting Canadian teachers to learn, generate dialogue and nurture a better understanding of the impact of residential schools in classrooms across the country.
The invitation is the CTF’s reaction to the Dec. 15 release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report, which includes calls to action to redress the legacy of residential schools and begin the reconciliation process.
“Education is vitally important to the reconciliation process,” said CTF president Heather Smith.
“This extremely tragic and shameful chapter in Canadian history must be brought to light for all Canadians, and it starts with our young students.”
For more than 100 years, aboriginal children in Canada were pulled from their families and placed in residential schools, where they were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The purpose of the residential schools was to aggressively assimilate aboriginal students.
“We commend the TRC for all of its efforts in bringing the truth about the devastating impact of residential schools to the fore and for beginning the healing process, which will take generations,” Smith said. “The CTF considers this not as an aboriginal challenge but one for all Canadians.”
Smith pointed to the recent resource Speak Truth to Power Canada (STTP), a website about Canadian human rights defenders and their achievements. Jointly developed by the CTF, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, STTP includes lesson plans and classroom activities that align with provincial and territorial curricula.
The CTF and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation are also collaborating on the production of a student voice discussion booklet and lesson plans on truth and reconciliation, which will be released on National Aboriginal Day 2016.
“The CTF looks forward to working collaboratively with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in the implementation of the calls to action outlined in the TRC final report,” Smith said. ❚
The CTF recommends the following sections of the TRC report to teachers:
- Truth and Reconciliation, for grades 5 to 12, featuring former residential school student Chief Wilton Littlechild (one of the TRC’s three commissioners)
- Cultural Identity and Education, for grades 7 to 12, featuring Mary Simon, an advocate for Inuit rights and culture in Canada
- Equitable Education for All, for grades 5 to 12, featuring Tim Thompson, a renowned champion for aboriginal education