Minister apologizes for drawing her son into controversy over treaty education

Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre has responded to backlash against comments she made about treaty education in the legislature by saying she is sorry she discussed her son's homework in a public forum.

CBC News obtained student notes that don't match Minister's account of lesson

Minister of Education Bronwyn Eyre said she was not proposing that treaty teachings be removed from elementary schools when she brought it up in a legislature speech. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's education minister has responded to backlash against comments she made about treaty education in the legislature by saying she is sorry she discussed her son's homework in a public forum.

On Sunday, CBC News obtained lesson notes of a Saskatoon Grade 8 student which don't match Bronwyn Eyre's account of that lesson.

Eyre issued a response Monday afternoon but did not directly address differences between her description of a student lesson and the notes obtained by CBC News.

"I do not wish to weigh in on what another student may have written down from the board or his or her interpretation of the material presented in class," said Eyre in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.

"I do not wish to draw my son into this discussion further; and I will not discuss him in any educational context in the future. I apologize for discussing his homework in a public forum."

Eyre said in her statement that she "100 per cent" supports treaty education being taught in Saskatchewan schools.

The minister came under fire for a speech she gave in the legislative assembly on Nov. 1. In it, she said her Grade 8 son brought home a history assignment which denigrated his ancestors.

Read Eyre's entire speech at the end of the story or click here.

"He'd copied from the board the following facts which were presented as fact: that European and European settlers were colonialists, pillagers of the land who knew only buying and selling and didn't respect Mother Earth," she said. 

Copy of assignment

Another student in that class, and the student's mother, shared the student's notes with CBC News in the family's living room Sunday. 

A photo of the notes taken by another student in the class. (Submitted to CBC News)

According to that student's notes, the worksheet in question outlined the "traditional perception of land" by First Nations and Western European peoples. The First Nations section included points such as "a continual relationship of interdependence with the land." The European section included points such as "Land can be bought, owned and sold."

Neither the teacher's worksheet (which is in French) nor the student's detailed notes from that day contain words which could be translated as "pillager" or "colonialist."

A second page asks students to write the responses given by the class. The four themes the student noted are peace, nature, different cultures and diversity.

Call for resignation

"It would make sense for her to resign," said Liz James, a Saskatoon blogger who has been writing about Eyre's comments.

James says that, intentionally or not, Eyre appears to have misled the legislature on a matter of tremendous public importance

"You do not suggest sweeping changes to the curriculum, particularly such painful, loaded and inflammatory ones, based on your kid's homework, because there is a real chance you might have just misunderstood the situation," James wrote.

Saskatoon blogger Liz James (Submitted to CBC )

James and others worry Eyre's comments could set back Saskatchewan's nationally-recognized advances in treaty education.

Thunderchild First Nation Chief Delbert Wapass said Eyre's comments were reminiscent of the minority-bashing tactics of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation said in a statement that Eyre's comments "could serve to divide communities and create unsafe space for Saskatchewan teachers and students."

When questioned about the tone of her speech Tuesday, Eyre said: "One thing one might discuss is, should there be a specific course on … Indigenous history, history of residential schools and treaties and so on, in a high school-level course as opposed to maybe more infusion into social studies?"

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In her statement released Monday, Eyre referenced a comment from Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron. 

She quoted Cameron as saying the following after a discussion with her: "What [Eyre] meant was maybe we need to look at different avenues or approaches to teaching treaty. Her stance is that teaching treaty has to continue."

About the Author

Jason Warick


Jason Warick is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.