Yukon looks to add residential school curriculum

Yukon's education department says the territory's schools already teach students about residential school, but it's looking to expand the curriculum to more schools and grades.

Key TRC recommendation already in place at six Yukon schools

One of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations was for schools to teach students more about the legacy of residential schools. Yukon's education department plans to expand coverage of the topic in schools around the territory. (Library and Archives Canada/Reuters)

Yukon schools already teach students about residential school, but the territory's education department says it's considering expanding the curriculum to more schools and grades.

Janet McDonald, with the education department's First Nations partnership, said six Yukon high schools—in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Carmacks and Faro—introduced a residential schools component to Grade 10 social studies classes this past fall.

 "B.C. has piloted some lower grade levels and we'll be looking at that, not necessarily in social studies but maybe in language arts and we'll definitely will be looking at other grades and other ways of introducing it," she said.

One of the key recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report was the need for education. The Commission urged provinces and territories to include the legacy of residential schools in the school curriculum.

'Very encouraging'

Yukon's Grade 10 teaches the story of aboriginal people in Canada, from the late 1700's to today, including the federal government's 2008 apology for residential schools. It includes the government policies that created residential schools and the impact of the schools on aboriginal communities.

Students are also taught about land claims and self-government agreements, so the course "ends on a positive note," McDonald said.

"The feedback from teachers and students has been very encouraging," she said. 

Social studies is a mandatory course, so the residential schools component is a requirement for graduation where it's offered. McDonald said parents are given advance warning that the subject will come up in classes, and that counseling is available if needed.