Ontario public servants to receive indigenous cultural sensitivity training

Ontario is introducing mandatory indigenous cultural sensitivity and anti-racism training for all public service employees in response to recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Wynne says province taking an important step on path to reconciliation

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says introducing mandatory training for public servants is an important step on the path to reconciliation. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Ontario is introducing mandatory indigenous cultural sensitivity and anti-racism training for all public service employees in response to recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The province is also developing a plan to ensure that the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the importance of treaties is added to the curriculum in Ontario's public schools.

The training is designed to help develop policies and programs to redress the legacy of residential schools, advance reconciliation with indigenous communities and make a real difference in the lives of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

The government says in a release that it will include topics such as terminology, diversity, aspects of colonial history such as residential schools, and also focus on violence against indigenous women.

It says the Ministry of Education will make the school curriculum changes in collaboration with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities and other education partners.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says by making changes to the public school curriculum and introducing mandatory training for the public servants, the province is taking an important step on the path to reconciliation.

"Our government is committed to working with indigenous partners to provide programs that respond to the real needs of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people," Wynne said Wednesday.

Patrick Madahbee, grand council chief of Union of Ontario Indians, called the cultural competency training a proactive initiative.

Ontario is demonstrating leadership with the introduction of this training, Madahbee said, adding that the province is "solidifying its relationship with First Nations."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, borne out of the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, issued 94 calls to action at the end of its mandate touching on a host of problems including health and education.

The six-year inquiry found that the government-funded, church-run residential schools were the key to a policy of cultural genocide designed to "kill the Indian in the child."

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