B.C. secondary students will need to complete Indigenous-focused coursework to graduate
The changes are expected to take effect in the 2023-24 school year
All secondary school students in B.C. will be required to complete Indigenous-focused coursework before graduation, according to the province's Ministry of Education.
The change, which aims to deepen students' understanding of Indigenous peoples, is expected to take effect in the 2023-24 school year.
Under the proposed approach, students will meet the requirement by successfully completing four credits through new and existing Indigenous-focused courses such as Contemporary Indigenous Studies 12 and B.C. First Peoples 12. It will apply to all students in B.C. public, independent and offshore schools.
B.C. is the first province or jurisdiction in Canada to implement this type of requirement, according to the ministry.
"The curriculum is there and we have a number of the courses already there," Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside told CBC's On The Coast on Monday. "It's really a matter of bringing more structure and more intentionality to ensuring that all students have access to these courses."
Whiteside said the ministry is committed to reconciliation and quoted Justice Murray Sinclair, former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who said: "Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it."
Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, said the committee has been working hand in hand with the Education Ministry to build the curriculum.
He says the new requirement will benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike.
"When our kids see themselves reflected in the curriculum it's going to give them confidence," he said. "It's also going to educate and inform others. It's a win-win."
The province launched an online public engagement form about the requirement on Monday.