School District commended for commitment to aboriginal education

  • Jun. 20, 2014 12:00 p.m.

The province’s top aboriginal educator has commended School District 50 for its commitment to aboriginal education. “Your district has ensured that aboriginal history, language and culture is learned by all students,” said DeDe DeRose, BC’s Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement. She was on Haida Gwaii for a few days in the spring. A major factor in the district’s success has been English First Peoples 10, a grade 10 class that focuses on Aboriginal literature and culture. Through books that include Drew Hayden Taylor’s The Night Wanderer, or short stories by Richard Van Camp, English First Peoples 10 “touches on themes that are relevant to places where cultures are figuring out how to interact,” said Dev Bradley, Vice Principle at Queen Charlotte Secondary School. Of 200 grade 10 students who were enrolled in the program province-wide, 30 of them — or 15 percent — came from Queen Charlotte High School. But while the program has been a success — it’s going on its third year — it was initially met with confusion by some students and community members. This is because Queen Charlotte High School only offers English First Peoples curriculum for grade 10 students, rather than the traditional curriculum that includes authors like Shakespeare. There is no choice. “There was some pushback from students and community members,” said Mr. Bradley,”not everyone understood why we couldn’t choose.” But before, students didn’t have a choice about studying Shakespeare, either, he added, and this is just how curriculums are decided. Mr. Bradley believes that having a First Nations perspective is essential. When he went through high school he was never taught about the reality of residential schools. “Everyone should at least understand that there are different perspectives of our history, and we should at least understand a First Nations perspective,” he said.”Creating graduates who understand this is a very good step in having an educated populace,” he said.

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