Manitoba

New report praises Manitoba efforts to improve reconciliation through education

Manitoba is getting top grades for its efforts to achieve reconciliation through education, but still has a long way to go, says a report card from Kairos on the implementation of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation report.

Kairos report card graded provinces and territories on education component of TRC recommendations

Riverbend Community School has Indigenous teachings incorporated into its curriculum and a special bilingual Ojibwe immersion program. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Manitoba is getting top grades for its efforts to achieve reconciliation through education, but still has a long way to go, says a report card from Kairos on the implementation of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation report.

Kairos, a non-profit organization of 10 churches and religious organizations that does human rights and advocacy work, looked at what each province and territory is doing to implement the education component in the recommendations.

Provinces and territories were graded on their public commitment to achieving reconciliation through education and their implementation of proposed changes.

Kairos's 2018 report gives Manitoba an average grade of "excellent," saying the province has created multiple training programs and guides for teachers.

Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, said the report card gives Canadians a chance to reflect on what if any actions they're taking toward reconciliation. (Warren Kay/CBC)

The report card gives Canadians an opportunity to pause and reflect on the actions they're taking toward reconciliation, said Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. 

"We can't stop here because it is only us as Canadian citizens, it is only us as the very humble 35 million people or so in this country that are actually going to ensure reconciliation occurs and we have to remember now that reconciliation is in the national interest. This is something that will build a better Canada for all Canadians."

One school where Indigenous teachings are incorporated into curriculum daily is Riverbend Community School.

Grade 5 student Jalissa McKay said she's learned the difference in treatment Indigenous people have faced over the years. (Warren Kay/CBC)

The school has a bilingual Ojibwe immersion program and emphasizes Indigenous teachings throughout every corner of the building. Students in the immersion program were learning the Ojibwe​ names of animals when CBC stopped by Tuesday. They also sang O Canada in the Indigenous language. 

Grade 5 student Jalissa McKay said she's learned the difference in treatment Indigenous people have faced over the years. She's also learned about the culture. 

"They have a lot of celebrations, like, they have treaty and they have pow wows they celebrate sometimes."

Alan Scott has already learned about some of Canada's dark residential school history. He, too, is in Grade 5. 

Alan Scott has already learned about some of Canada's dark residential school history. (Warren Kay/CBC)

"Before the residential schools used to take the children away from their families and they used to abuse them a lot. One of the punishments were to hold out the tongue for 15 minutes," Scott said.

The excellent grade Manitoba has received is an improvement from 2016, when the non-profit said Manitoba needed to do more work on the implementation of this recommendation.

Jennifer Henry, executive director of Kairos, said across Canada, provinces have moved to include classes on residential schools and their impacts.

Indigenous teachings at every grade level

In Manitoba, Indigenous cultures and histories are taught mainly through social studies curriculum from kindergarten to Grade 12. The curriculum includes specific learning outcomes related to Indigenous education at every grade level.

A provincial spokesperson said education on treaties and residential schools is part of the mandatory kindergarten to Grade 11 social studies curriculum, with residential schools being a focus in grades 9 and 11 and treaty education a focus in grades 5 and 6.

Students can also take optional social studies courses where treaty education is taught.

Manitoba is getting top grades for its efforts to achieve reconciliation through education, but still has a long way to go. 2:35

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With files from Austin Grabish