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Call to Action 62 & K-12 Education

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from my son’s teacher-

he was in trouble. The phone call was unusual because my son is only six, is very quiet, and is known for being unusually sweet. The teacher said he was extremely argumentative and was being disrespectful in class. It turns out that he was challenging his teacher on their teachings regarding residential schools and the purpose of reconciliation. Ultimately, he got in trouble for his behaviour but, for the record- he was right.

One of the major benefits of going through law school as both an older student and a parent is that my children are learning alongside me. Not only do my children know about the Criminal Code, division of powers, the elements of a contract, and the protections under the Alberta Human Rights Code, my law courses have grown them into fierce advocates for our Indigenous peers. And while it is true that they are learning some information from Alberta’s K-12 curriculum, the majority of my children’s learning has been outside the classroom-a direct sign of the work that needs to be done to achieve Call to Action 62.

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Call to Action 62 calls for the funding and development of Indigenous content in education and includes the call to provide age-appropriate curriculum and mandatory K-12 education in relation to Indigenous history and the contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada. [1] There has been some progress on Call to Action 62 such as the fact that all provinces and territories now include the history of residential schools in their curriculum. However, there are still significant shortfalls in the response to 62 such that while the above history is included in the curriculum, it is not mandatory teaching content in all provinces. Worse yet, some provinces that were initially leaders in implementing Call to Action 62 are now scaling back their commitments to Indigenous content from mandatory to an optional requirement. [3] Even in provinces with mandatory content, the quality of the content varies between provinces as only a few governments have senior-level positions dedicated to Indigenous content in education. [4]

What is the result of this disconnect? A six-year-old who knows more than their teachers. And while I am very proud of my son for taking a stance and correcting misinformation where there is a lack of uniform teaching and understanding, we will always have to start the next conversation at the level of understanding of the least informed person in the room. If we want to achieve education-related calls to action and achieve generational change not only do we need to have mandatory educational content, but that commitment needs to be more than a chapter in a textbook. The Indigenous curriculum needs not only to be mandatory coast to coast, but needs to be informed by Indigenous people and incorporated into daily teaching in subjects such as but not limited to, science, language arts, and history to help students view the world with a more informed, just, and understanding lens.

Until next time,

The ReconciliACTION YEG Team

[1] “Call To Action 62” (20 October 2022), online: TRC TALK <>.

[2]“Beyond 94: Truth and Reconciliation Canada” (26 July 2022), online: CBC News <>.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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