Halloween assignment featuring 'Indian' man sparks controversy at Montreal school

A teacher at École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce handed out a Halloween-themed vocabulary sheet featuring a fairy, a ghost, and a mermaid — as well as an "Indian" in native headdress.

Teacher at École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce removed image after being contacted by parents

A Halloween-themed vocabulary sheet at École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce featured an "Indian" in a native headdress. (Facebook)

An NDG dad is raising questions about an elementary school assignment that made reference to an "Indian" man.

Eric Robillard says each week his daughter, who attends École Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, is given a vocabulary sheet with the goal of matching a word with an image. 

For Halloween, the sheet featured a fairy, a ghost and a mermaid — along with a man in a native headdress. 

"We didn't think it was a costume," Robillard told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Tuesday. 

"We thought it was cultural appropriation. It's not something that we wanted our daughter to learn. And we didn't want our daughter to learn the word Indian."

Robillard said his wife raised the issue with their daughter's teacher, and she was apologetic, explaining that the material was provided by the school board. The teacher removed the image when she handed out the assignment again. 

He contacted the school board, the Commission scolaire de Montréal, on Tuesday but has yet to get a response. 

Robillard also posted the homework sheet on an NDG parents' Facebook group, where it has been widely shared and generated a heated debate.

He said it started out respectfully but deteriorated into personal attacks and "Indian jokes."

CSDM didn't immediately return a request to comment from CBC.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?