Yukon teachers prepare to roll out mandatory residential school history curriculum
Social studies unit encourages schools to invite former students to tell their stories
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.
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
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.