Indigenous education isn’t a trade-off for effective government

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Canada’s history with its Indigenous peoples is a harrowing reality that many students in their formative years of studying history don’t effectively learn, and that’s a problem.

Before the Ontario Conservatives came to power in June, they campaigned on effective government. But their handling of Indigenous curricula has been the opposite—scrapping plans to rewrite the curriculum which would’ve enhanced the way Ontarian students learn about Indigenous peoples.

The decision pushes the province further from the nation-wide goal of reconciliation.

In 2015, a federal report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada presented 94 calls to action to help reconcile Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples. Among them, education and curriculum reform regarding Indigenous history were listed as significant priorities.

However, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has halted revisions to the curriculum due to travel costs associated with bringing political leaders, experts, and Indigenous leaders to revision sessions.

For the Ford government, a revised curriculum concerning Indigenous peoples in Canada is too costly to implement. The experiences of thousands of Indigenous children in abusive residential schools, the psychological trauma induced from forced assimilation, and the division of families is—in effect—too costly to try to reconcile.

This choice will cost Ontarian students more than it will save the province in tax dollars. 

Our generation needs to work toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. To do so, Canadians must understand the history of the land their public schools sit on.

Indigenous peoples cannot carry the weight of reconciliation alone. They’re the ones investigating the remnants of Canada’s history within their communities—but they can’t be expected to bring this information across the province without the government’s help.

To facilitate mutual progress, Ontarians who vote—and those who’ll do so in the near future—must receive the tools necessary to be conscious of their societies and histories. One of those tools is knowledge of Canada’s true history, which must be facilitated through public education.

Educational progress shouldn't be decided—or halted—by political parties in power. It should be the product of shifting narratives and significant changes in society that warrant enhanced knowledge.

The Ford government shouldn’t have the right to decide what tools are dispensable to students, especially not in the interest of an effective government. An effective government delivers high-quality services to citizens, acting in the interest of our communities—including minority groups.

Indigenous education goes hand-in-hand with effective provincial governance.

Ontario’s Tories need to listen to the calls of those outside their own political sphere and recognize the importance of a conscious generation of Canadians—additionally, that truth and reconciliation are more valuable than saved travel costs.

Jasnit is one of The Journal’s Copy Editors. She’s a third-year Politics student.

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