Ontario, Canada launches First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies curriculum

Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson at the provincial legislature in Toronto on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. The province announced a revamped Indigenous curriculum this week that the government says will give students better “knowledge and appreciation of both contemporary and traditional First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, cultures, perspectives, and contributions.” (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian province of Ontario launched their new First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies curriculum on Tuesday, saying they hope it will give students the knowledge to “…challenge commonly held but often erroneous knowledge and sociocultural ideas and perspectives” about Indigenous Peoples as well has better understand the importance of  “Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing in a contemporary global context.”

“We are committed to ensuring that Indigenous perspectives are present in Ontario’s curriculum,” said Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s minister of education, in a news release.

“We look forward to continuing strong partnerships with Indigenous leaders and the community, and this represents an important step in our ongoing collaboration.”

The new curriculum replaces the previous programs of study: The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Native Studies, 1999 and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: Native Studies, 2000.

In all, ten new elective secondary school courses will be offered covering everything from Indigenous culture and artistic expression to governance and the global context of Indigenous issues.

$3.25 million to help implement new courses

Ontario’s Ministry of Education says the new syllabus was put together with wide Input from Indigenous peoples including teachers, elders; First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community representatives; and residential school survivors, among others. 

The Ministry of Education did not respond to requests for more information about Inuit input, or the Inuit organizations, that contributed to the new curriculum.

The provincial government also announced $3.25 million to help school boards implement the new courses. 

The new curriculum comes into effect September 2019.

Write to Eilis Quinn at Eilis.Quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit organization accuses Nunavut’s education system of ‘cultural genocide,’ Radio Canada International

Finland: New climate studies program coming to schools in Finland, Yle News

Russia: Norwegian-funded school in Northwest Russia inspires cooperation, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Inequality a problem in Swedish schools: UNICEF report, Radio Sweden

United States: ‘Every year it’s harder’: Hiring teachers gets increasingly difficult in rural Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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