Calgary Centre for Newcomers incorporating Indigenous history into language classes

The Calgary Centre for Newcomers will soon include Indigenous culture and history in its English language programs.

The centre is infusing programming with Indigenous culture to better educate new Canadians

Cindy Provost helped create the program after hearing a newcomer to Canada describe the residential school system in a positive light. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Teaching new Canadians about the country's Indigenous history is among the 94 calls to action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

And now, the Calgary Centre for Newcomers aims to do just that by focusing on Indigenous culture and history in its English language programming. 

Cindy Provost helped create the program after hearing a new Canadian describe the residential school system in a positive light.

"She was being taught that the Indian residential schools were a good thing for the Indigenous peoples of Canada. That was a very scary statement for me to hear," she said.

Many newcomers are surprised to learn Canada has its own history of oppression and violence, says Anila Lee Yeun, head of the Centre for Newcomers.

Now, all English classes at the centre will have specific lessons geared towards Indigenous history.

"We will be acknowledging that we are on Treaty 7 land, we will have opportunities to interact with Indigenous people, do field trips that go out to different places. Perhaps, if we're invited in, hopefully onto the reserves, to be able to do things like that and participate in different ways," she said. 

Adam Puskar, who recently fled Serbia, is glad to see Canada acknowledge the dark side of its history, and try to right some of its wrongs.

"We as newcomers have an opportunity to learn something from that and hear the story about Indigenous people," he said. "It's important."

With files from Kate Adach