Nfld. & Labrador

Mi'kmaq First Nation leading project to increase cultural content in classrooms

The Qalipu First Nation says it’s on the right track to add more Indigenous content to the province's school curriculum.

Qalipu Band looking to add more Indigenous art and language to schools

Kristen Pittman is the team lead at the Qalipu First Nation education and training department. (Bernice Hillier/CBC)

The Qalipu First Nation says it's on the right track to increase Indigenous content in Newfoundland and Labrador's schools. 

Although still in the initial stages of the project, the First Nation says the decision to enter into the partnership with the provincial government is "monumental."

"We definitely have not come far enough. The amount of content and the quality of content, there really is need for improvement," said Kristen Pittman, team lead with Qalipu First Nation education and training department.

Pittman said the Qalipu First Nation is looking at what changes can be made to the curriculum based on common themes and struggles that come up during community engagement sessions that are being hosted in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Stephenville and Corner Brook.

She said they are looking at incorporating more Indigenous music, art, history and language into the school curriculum. 

"This is important to Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students alike because really, we want our students of the province to be culturally aware and enter the workforce with knowledge of different cultures," said Pittman. 

Pittman said they propose that students learn about Indigenous cultures from kindergarten all the way through high school, so the material will be harder to forget.

The change, however, will not happen overnight. Pittman says it could take years for the curriculum to evolve.

But she says the changes are imperative, as she knows many of her community members can remember not feeling accurately represented in textbooks growing up. She wants students like her daughter to feel different in the classroom.

"I would love her and her friends to learn, and the people of the province, to learn accurate information that lets them know the history and the experiences that the Indigenous people in our province have to offer."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning