The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association just sent a clear message to the government of Ontario – ensure that First Nation, Métis and Inuit history and culture play a bigger role in Catholic schools.
From integrating the history into the provincial curriculum to demonstrating support for better access to education, the OCSTA recently passed a resolution of support for the Charter of Commitment for First Nation, Métis and Inuit education. OCSTA wanted to show its understanding for the need to ensure all Aboriginal groups have a bigger voice in every facet of the school system.
This support comes following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report of Canada. The report issued a call to action for reconciliation of education and the need to develop, with Aboriginal groups, a joint strategy to eliminate educational gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
The First Nation approached the Ontario PublicSchool Boards’Association to ratify this Charter and to bring it forward at its AGM in order to bring it to the provincial government’s attention.
“Once OCSTA heard about it, we looked at the Charter and agreed that everything listed in the Charter is about respecting one another’s rights, and is all about what we are as Catholics,” explains OCSTA Board of Director member Colleen Landers. “Why would we not bring it to our members to see how they felt about it, and endorse it at our AGM?”
And so they did.
This support went to the OCSTA Board of Directors and later to its AGM for members to vote it in as a resolution.
“It’s showing support for what’s already been bought forward to the federal government. We did it on their behalf to bring it to the provincial government to show we’re supportive and that we think it’s something that should happen sooner rather than later,” explains Landers.
The public and Catholic school support has helped ignite a flame at Queen’s Park – the provincial government of Ontario is currently writing the history curriculum with more of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit history integrated into it, with the hopes of releasing it for the 2016 academic year.
“By us endorsing it, I think ithas raised government awareness that this support requires them to work on the curriculum completion faster,” says Landers. “Everybody should know of the history of First Nation. Our children should understand it; rather than hearing of residential schools, they should know it.”
The OCSTA is also putting its words into action.
Each year, the association develops professional development and training modules for trustees across Ontario. This year, they’re introducing a new module focused on relationships with First Nation, Métis and Inuit families.
CCSTA Also Backs Charter
This support then went to the national level.
“OCSTA has four trustees who are First Nations, Métis and Inuit,” explains Landers. “They asked whether it could it be brought forward to the CCSTA to help build momentum and tell the federal government there’s a need to be addressed.”
At its AGM last June, the CCSTA Board of Directors ratified a resolution of support for the Charter of Commitment for First Nation, Métis and Inuit education.