Dear Community Members and Allies,
Truth and Reconciliation Day is an opportunity for us as settlers to listen and learn. It is because of the labour of survivors that we have the opportunity to understand the profound impact of residential ‘schools’ on Indigenous Peoples and their communities across Canada. This day serves as a sombre reminder of the atrocities perpetrated by the colonisers of these unceded lands on Indigenous children and their families. The intergenerational trauma is exacerbated by ongoing harm caused by the child welfare system and anti-Indigenous racism in society.
Education is a colonial project, which was designed to exclude and to sever Indigenous children and youth from their language and culture. At BCEdAccess, we are committed to enacting and advocating for the enactment of the 94 Calls to Action from the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Because the purpose of these policy recommendations is to acknowledge the horrific history of the residential schools system and create systems to prevent these abuses from ever happening again, we also accept the importance of our role as a non-profit society in holding different systems to account.
Only 12 or 13 of the 94 Calls to Action have been enacted, since their release in 2015.
The following are Calls To Action specific to Education, none of which have been enacted to date:
6: We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
(From this section: Every school teacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.)
7: We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
8: We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.
9: We call upon the federal government to prepare and publish annual reports comparing funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves, as well as educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.
10: We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles:
-Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within one generation.
-Improving education attainment levels and success rates.
-Developing culturally appropriate curricula.
-Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.
-Enabling parental and community responsibility, control, and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.
-Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.
-Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.
11: We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.
12: We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.
62: We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:
Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.
63: We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
-Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.
-Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
-Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
-Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.
64: We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.
65: We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.
Holding the BC Education system accountable for this work is paramount if we aim to make our education system more equitable and accessible to all—students, staff, and families alike.
Our Organisation- Truth and Reconciliation
At BCEdAccess, our commitment to the principles of Truth and Reconciliation is unwavering.
Our Board is dedicated to continuous learning, both individually and collectively, so that each iteration of leadership remains aligned with these values.
We prioritise promoting educational resources directly from Indigenous-led organisations, such as information on Jordan’s Principle and BC’s new First Peoples graduation course.
We follow and amplify content from Indigenous creators to uplift Indigenous voices and perspectives. We feature paid Indigenous speakers at our annual education advocacy conference and various events throughout the year to create opportunities to share invaluable Indigenous knowledge with our community.
We strive to have a proactive recruitment approach with a focus on outreach to Indigenous organisations and an inclusive onboarding and working experience.
Some actions you can take beyond Truth and Reconciliation Day
Read the reports from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation:
Follow Indigenous folks on social media – broaden your feed and learn what meaningful action looks like from them.
Take action through the year:
Image below is a heart made of handprints in different colours on an orange background. This design was created and is shared by Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish artist Carey Newman/Hayalthkin’geme.