Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)

Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

Wolf Creek Public Schools and (WCPS) and Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS) sent a joint letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on Nov. 19 to express their gratitude for clarification received regarding proposed curriculum changes.

The letter was reviewed during WCPS’s Nov. 9 board meeting and emphasized the importance of retaining “two key concepts” currently taught in K-4 classrooms: residential schools and equity.

The minister had sent a letter to board chairs and superintendents on Oct. 21 that stated the “updated curriculum will teach the full history of Canada, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit History. It will focus on the building blocks of knowledge so students can think critically for themselves.”

The joint letter responded that this was “reassuring” as the alleged minimization of residential schools and the concept of equity was of the most concern.

READ MORE: Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

“Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) and Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS) have embraced Education for Reconciliation to ensure our students, staff, parents and communities remain strong partners in this essential focus across all schools in communities we are honoured to serve,” stated the letter.

“An important distinction of what makes WCPS and WRPS unique is our direct connection, both geographically and educationally, through a strong Educational Services Agreement and relationship with the Maskwacîs Education Schools Commission (MESC) and the community of Maskwacîs.”

The letter goes on to explain that historically, both boards have been “enriched through the many opportunities to connect with Elders, cultural advisors, local historians, and community leaders to provide direct support and guidance in our schools.”

It concluded with a plea to ensure the Alberta Government honours its commitment to First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences in curriculum that was reaffirmed at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in March, 2017.

“Minister LaGrange, we want to emphasize how critically important this promise and commitment needs to be honoured by the Alberta Government as the revised curriculum is implemented in Alberta. This includes ensuring ‘all’ Alberta students, in age appropriate ways, are fully taught the history and legacy of residential schools.”

The letter was signed by WCPS chair Pamela Hansen, Lovell, and WRPS chair Lynn Ware and superintendent Peter Baron.

In a prepared statement, Lovell expanded on why this clarification and commitment from LaGrange is significant.

“WCPS takes seriously, fully supports and embraces education for reconciliation for students, staff, parents and families,” he said.

Wolf Creek’s commitment to build connections and open conversations comes in many forms and is their part in honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, including:

  • Age-appropriate curriculum and resources on the legacy of residential schools, Treaties, and the contributions of historical and contemporary Aboriginal people
  • Best practices and training for teachers when it comes to the legacy of residential schools
  • Building student understanding, empathy and mutual respect

“In Wolf Creek, we continue to work to develop resources and build relationships, while inviting families and communities to join us in honouring and celebrating events such as National Indigenous Peoples’ Day to Orange Shirt Day to celebrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who receive awards, scholarships and bursaries for their hard work, commitment and achievement.”

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