Burnaby School District apologizes for exam asking how First Nations benefited from colonial relationships

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The superintendent of the Burnaby College District has issued an apology after a query on a Grade 9 social research take a look at requested college students to explain how First Nations folks benefited and took benefit of their relationship with colonizers.

“We often study the tragic effects on the First Nations people of North America as a consequence of colonization. However, many of the people who were here were not just victims. Many took advantage of their relationship with the colonists. Explain some of the ways the First Nations people of North America benefited from the relationships with European colonizers,” reads the query.

The query is paired with a sketch drawing titled “Innu at HBC Trading Post,” which exhibits First Nations folks being given weapons and boots.

Sofia Milandri, a 14-year-old Grade 9 pupil, supplied CBC Information with a replica of the take a look at query, which was a part of a social research examination at Burnaby On-line faculties.

“The question was horribly worded and, honestly, like most other questions in this course, it was a way to try to trick us into justifying the actions of the colonizers,” mentioned Milandri who, as a substitute of responding to the query, submitted a paragraph explaining why it was inappropriate.

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“If someone sets your house on fire, steals all your stuff, and takes your kids, you don’t benefit from that, so I kind of got really angry.”

On Thursday, Burnaby College District superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen despatched an announcement apologizing for the query, saying she was “deeply saddened and upset to learn that this question was put on a student exam.”

“It is inappropriate and, worse than that, this kind of question is harmful and could be trauma-inducing for Indigenous youth and damaging to meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” learn the assertion, partly.

“This does not represent our values or the true impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples. And yet it happened.”

The assertion mentioned the varsity district is reviewing applicable studying assets and will probably be reaching out to college students and households.

Curriculum ‘outdated’

Milandri mentioned it wasn’t the primary time she felt her social research curriculum was outdated

“The links to the resources that we’re supposed to use go back to the early 2000s and, the questions that are presented, they’re worded very insensitively,” she mentioned.

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“Honestly it feels like we’re just learning how to make excuses for colonizers and for how horribly the Canadian government and the churches were treating people…. If the entire curriculum was supposed to have changed to teach us about Canada’s dark past, then why didn’t they change it?”

Sofia Milandri, a 14-year-old Grade 9 pupil, supplied CBC Information with a replica of the take a look at query, which was a part of a social research examination. (Submitted by Sofia Milandri)

In 2015, the Reality and Reconciliation Fee of Canada issued 94 calls to motion as a part of its remaining report documenting the historical past and legacy of Canada’s residential faculty system, with 4 measures particularly targeted on the training sector.

The TRC referred to as on governments to collaborate with survivors, Indigenous teams and educators to develop obligatory, age-appropriate curriculum for Okay-12 college students about residential faculties, treaties and Indigenous contributions to Canada, and to fund instructor coaching.

Shannon Leddy, an assistant professor with the College of British Columbia’s school of training, mentioned the incident is just not remoted. In November, homework assigned within the Abbotsford College District requested college students to listing “positive” tales and info about Canada’s residential faculty system.

“It has the effect of upholding some of the key mythologies about Indigenous people that have been created as a product of colonization, including the notion that Indigenous people didn’t really have culture or civilization prior to the arrival of Europeans […] and that Indigenous people take advantage of the government,” mentioned Leddy, whose work focuses on decolonizing training.  

“Those are colonial mythologies that are repeated again and again within formal curriculums in schools and in informal curriculums that happens outside of schools.”

Leddy mentioned that since 2010, lecturers in B.C. have been mandated to take three credit of Indigenous training inside instructor teaching programs.

She mentioned that whereas the B.C. faculty curriculum has been up to date since 2015, curricular assets utilized by faculties differ between districts.

 “I’m really glad when students and parents react to these moments, because it gives us an opportunity to have this conversation,” mentioned Leddy.