OPSEU/SEFPO commends government’s plan to strengthen Indigenous learning in elementary schools

colourful Indigenous scene from 19th century depicting the catholic church separating young indigenous children from their parents and community

Toronto – On the eve of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, OPSEU/SEFPO is commending the Ontario government for its commitment to teach the youngest schoolchildren more about First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples.

“For Ontarians who are descendants of settlers, there is still an incredible amount to learn about the history of the peoples who were here first,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It’s never too early to start learning, and we’re very pleased that lessons are now being developed for kids just starting grade school.”

Broadening and strengthening Indigenous education were part of some of the 94 recommendations made in 2015 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“I’m proud that our union supports the implementation of all 94 recommendations, and is committed to action in our members’ workplaces and in our own workplaces,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “And I’m pleased to see that our government has committed to having an Indigenous-focussed curriculum ready for students in Grades 1 to 3 by September 2023.”

Thomas said he’s also more pleased the government will “co-develop” the lessons for young grade-schoolers with Indigenous partners, Elders, and Knowledgekeepers.

“For far too long, settlers have decided what stories school kids are taught, or not taught and what is erased, about Indigenous peoples’ history. And we’re finally starting to realize that we haven’t been telling our kids – or even ourselves sometimes – the truth about our histories or our present day realities,” said Thomas. “This is Indigenous history, these are Indigenous truths – of course Indigenous people should have a strong voice in how that curriculum is taught and how those stories are told.”

“On behalf of our union’s entire membership of 180,000 – including the thousands who work in grade schools as Education Workers — I’d like to offer any support and assistance we can give to Indigenous education and Indigenous reconciliation.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931