British Columbia

Residential schools, reconciliation on curriculum for B.C. teachers

Teachers from around British Columbia are gathering in Vancouver to review a new curriculum to teach students about residential schools and reconciliation.

New learning materials will be available to more grades throughout B.C. this fall

Ken Heales (left) and Robert Moxness piloted the new residential school curriculum material in their classrooms last year. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)

Teachers from around British Columbia are gathering in Vancouver to review new curriculum material about residential schools and reconciliation. 

Up until now B.C. students didn't typically learn about residential schools until Grade 11 social studies. But this fall, new curriculum material will be available for Grades 5, 10, 11 and 12.

Ken Heales, a teacher in Hundred Mile House, is in Vancouver for the conference. He piloted some of the material last year. 

"It was quite surprising to me how many of my students really didn't know about it," he said.

"They were shocked to find out this had happened — they wanted to learn more."

Louise Lacerte, a residential school survivor who has worked in education for 30 years, is also attending the conference. 

She is glad to have educational material to help her speak about her experiences with her students and her grandchildren.

Bernadette Lacerte (left) and her mother-in-law Louise Lacerte both work in education on Lake Babine Nation. (Chantelle Bellrichard/CBC)
"There was an era where we weren't allowed to … share the information or the experiences that we encountered within those schools," said Lecerte.

"So now I think it's turned around where our children's children can start understanding why we are the way we are." 

The material for the conference was developed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association.

According to FNESC website, the materials are their "response to the call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for education bodies to develop age-appropriate educational materials about Indian Residential Schools."

It's available online and free to download

With files from Chantelle Bellrichard