North

Yukon teachers prepare to roll out mandatory residential school history curriculum

Yukon teachers met with First Nations, education groups and residential school survivors in Whitehorse this week as they discussed how to properly implement a new unit teaching students about the history of residential schools.

Social studies unit encourages schools to invite former students to tell their stories

Adeline Webber (left) gets a supportive hug at the educators' conference. For eight years she attended the Whitehorse Baptist Indian Mission School in Yukon. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Yukon teachers met with First Nations, education groups and residential school survivors in Whitehorse this week as they discussed how to properly implement a new unit teaching students about the history of residential schools.

A student guide called 'Our Stories of Residential Schools in Yukon and Canada," which will be used in the new social studies unit across the province. (submitted)
Grade 10 students in Yukon will learn residential school history this year, as a new, mandatory social studies unit — previously introduced in Dawson City, Faro, Carmacks, and three Whitehorse schools — is set to be rolled out across the territory.

Yukon's education minister Doug Graham spoke about the unit at the conference today, calling the new curriculum "important work (on) the journey towards reconciliation."

Graham said the new unit will cover history of residential schools and also lead students to understand inter-generational effects of abuse and trauma, encouraging instructors to co-teach with local First Nations and former residential school students.

"This curriculum takes a community-based approach of having conversations with our students about this sensitive topic," said Graham.

The new curriculum unit, called "Our Stories of Residential Schools in Yukon and Canada: Seeking Understanding — Finding Our Way Together," follows a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to increase education in Canada about residential school history. 

Educators meet with residential school students

Yukon's education minister Doug Graham says the new curriculum is a sign of "important work (on) the journey towards reconciliation." (Philippe Morin/CBC)
During this week's conference, Whitehorse teachers met with First Nations, education groups and former students of residential schools. 

Adeline Webber is with the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women's Circle, and also spent eight years at the Whitehorse Baptist Indian Mission School. 

With tears in her eyes, she recalled her experience, saying that she "learned early that I had to stand up for myself and for others against bullies, and those who wanted to take advantage of us."

Webber recently helped put the finishing touches on a book which collects photographs of Yukon's schools, titled Finding Our Faces, History through Photographs and Stories. 

The book contains over 60 pages of photos and stories, which Webber says will be shared with former residential school students and families.

"It was critical to do this research and find as many photos as possible," she said. "I am pleased to say we've completed the book with over 60 pages of photographs and stories which will be shared with former students and their families to help them regain their sense of personal history and identity," she said.   

Comments

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.