Disappointed with Ministry’s decision to scrap meeting with Indigenous leaders ~ Opinion

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By Nathan Forestell ~

I am writing to express my sadness and extreme disappointment with the Ministry of Education’s decision to cancel the meeting with Indigenous leaders regarding indigenous curriculum revisions.

Growing up and going to school in Trillium Lakelands District School Board, I can say that I was never educated on the severe mistreatment and discrimination of Canada’s indigenous people in elementary school and was hardly taught the subject in high school. It is an absolute shame that this is the case. I do not fault my teachers for this glaring oversight, rather an educational system that has systematically neglected to properly educate our youth on the institutionalized racism and discrimination faced by Canada’s Indigenous people.

It is clear that the intergenerational impacts of the government’s injustice towards Indigenous peoples in Canada in the form of residential schools, forced-displacement, lack of access to basic social and health services, and many other politicized acts of discrimination are devastating and the atrocities committed against them are undeniable.

As an aspiring educator I am extremely saddened by the decision made by the Ministry of Education. This was a beautiful opportunity to receive input from Indigenous leaders and experts on what information should be included in the curriculum, what is important for young Canadians to learn about this terrible chapter in our history, why there is a stigma and racism surrounding Indigenous people, why there is an overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Canada’s prisons and why this trend shows no sign of improving.

By ignoring history and by ignoring the people who experienced this history we are doing an absolute disservice to Ontario’s Indigenous people, teachers and students. Through listening  to different perspectives we can begin to move forward to reconciliation and educate a new generation so they can be more informed, motivated and prepared to understand Indigenous perspectives and tackle the issues facing Canada’s Indigenous people.

Is cancelling a two-week meeting with Indigenous leaders regarding Ontario’s curriculum so efficient that it justifies ignoring Indigenous perspectives and opinions once again?

Is it efficient enough to justify the continual miseducation of Ontario’s youth with regards to residential schools?

When we scrap opportunities like this in the name of efficiency what do we really accomplish? I personally believe that it is extremely efficient to listen to Indigenous people when drafting a curriculum that has to do with the history of Indigenous people but maybe that’s just me.

Nathan Forestell is a Huntsville resident now studying International Development at the University of Ottawa.

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