NAN launches residential school curriculum to help educate public
NAN Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic, Mattagami Chief Walter Naveau and NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler at the NAN Education Forum in Thunder Bay Sept. 25.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation has launched the NAN Residential School Curriculum to provide high school students with more knowledge about the history and impacts of the residential school system.
“A lot of the children of the survivors of residential school need to hear their stories,” said Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic, who holds NAN’s education portfolio. “The children of the communities, and even the broader society, need to understand the tragedy of our history of the residential school era.”
Kakegamic said it would be “great” if the provincial school boards would examine the curriculum and incorporate it into their curriculum.
“The greater society needs to understand the history and events,” Kakegamic said. “Through that, it will promote tolerance and understanding.”
NAN launched the curriculum on Sept. 25 during an Education Partnerships Forum in Thunder Bay.
“The residential school system was a shameful chapter in Canadian history but its devastating impacts cannot be ignored or forgotten,” said Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, who holds NAN’s justice portfolio. “This curriculum is being launched in First Nation schools across NAN territory but we are working with other jurisdictions to have it incorporated in schools across Ontario to increase public awareness and help with healing and reconciliation for all Canadians.”
Fiddler said it is important for all students, both First Nations and non-First Nations, to learn about what happened during the residential school era.
“(It is very important) for the full and complete history of this country to be taught in all our schools,” Fiddler said. “For my older siblings and others who went (to residential school), it definitely had an impact on them, even to this day, and I think that is what we are seeing in the communities.”
The curriculum includes the history of the residential school system, a framework with detailed lesson plans for grades 9-12 and survivor stories in the words of NAN First Nation members who attended residential schools.
The curriculum was designed to increase awareness of the residential school system as a major part of the European colonizing effort against Aboriginal peoples and to increase awareness and understanding of what NAN members experienced while attending the 13 residential schools in the region.
It also aims to promote awareness in reclaiming language, culture and skills that were lost as a result of residential schools and to promote individual healing in the context of rebuilding links with families, communities and Elders.
“The residential school system is a sad but significant part of history and it is important that all Canadians have the opportunity to learn about the impacts these schools have had on the lives of First Nations people,” Kakegamic said. “Thanks to the assistance of residential school survivors and NAN educators we have developed an excellent curriculum that will not only educate our youth but will honour the survivors and the many youth who did not return after being taken from their homes to attend these schools.”
The curriculum was originally developed in 2002 and has since been revised in 2013 to include more recent topics, such as the residential school settlement and apology, with the assistance of educators, consultants and NAN staff.
About 5,000 NAN members attended residential schools. Following the federal government’s apology in 2008, NAN has continued to advocate for programs to help individuals and entire communities heal from the devastating legacy of the residential school system.
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