Ontario teachers push ahead with Indigenous curriculum studies despite provincial cutbacks

Ontario's history teachers spent some time back in the classroom this week in Sudbury.

Laurentian hosts 3-day meeting to develop new strategies to incorporate Indigenous learning in Ontario schools

Hazel Fox-Recollet showing the teachers a medicine wheel during a summer meeting looking at the Indigenous curriculum in Ontario's schools. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

Ontario's history teachers spent some time back in the classroom this week in Sudbury.

They were working on the new curriculum inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

It's part of a multi-year process to update Ontario curricula with Indigenous experiences, history, and knowledge.

Rachel Collishaw, president of the Ontario History and Social Sciences Teachers' Association, said teachers are going to be provided with some much-needed lessons.

"This is reconciliation in action, and if you're a history teacher and you were sort of wondering what your place is in reconciliation ... this is it," Collishaw said. "That's your role as a history teacher. You need to teach this."

During the conference, teachers "create classroom-ready activities that support both Indigenous pedagogies and historical thinking" the Ontario Teachers Federation website states. 

"We will work with First Nation partners in the local community to learn together about both historical truth and reconciliation, both for ourselves and our students."

The provincial government cancelled a similar session in Toronto earlier this month, suggesting the cut was to reign in spending.

The OTF funded this event, organizers said, so there was no danger of losing provincial funding.

'Embarrassment and anger,' teacher says

Bryce Wilson, a teacher with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board said as a teacher, he is excited to be able to empower youth to understand Canadian, and First Nations history.

"As a white teacher, there's a sense of embarrassment and anger," Wilson said.

"I feel like I've been aware and involved, but in the school system it has to have a sense of urgency, and the more that young people are aware of things, the more they will become involved in it."

You can hear the full interview in the audio clip below.