Saskatchewan Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre said she regrets referencing her son’s homework in a speech which prompted questions about teaching treaty education in schools.
“I regret bringing up my son, and if there was any misunderstanding that was caused, I absolutely regret that as well,” Eyre said.
In the speech on Nov. 1, Eyre said her son, who is in Grade 8, brought home a history assignment that suggested all pioneers to Canada were ill-meaning.
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The minister was later criticized for suggesting there might be too much “infusion” of First Nations history in school curriculum.
Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA), said Eyre’s comments raises concerns about moving away from infusing treaty education in the curriculum.
“Some of the recent statements are inconsistent with the position and the partnership the SSBA has with the Ministry of Education in working on First Nations, Metis and Indigenous initiatives and treaty education,” Davidson said.
Davidson added he is confident local boards will continue work to ensure treaty materials are included in classrooms.
The SSBA remains committed to working with the ministry on these materials, which the Saskatchewan Party government was the first to introduce in Canada.
Calls for resignation
However, not everyone is prepared to move forward with Eyre as education minister. A petition has surfaced on Change上海龙凤419 which demands Eyre resign or be removed from her ministerial post.
Since Monday, it has collected over 1,700 signatures.
University of Regina political science department head Tom McIntosh sees two options with Eyre’s comments; either she apologize for misleading the assembly or resign.
“It’s not clear what she was thinking when she said what she said, but it is pretty clear that her statements about what were in the curriculum are just frankly false,” McIntosh said.
The Saskatchewan Grade 8 social studies curriculum marks an indicator of success if students can investigate the importance of land to the Canadian economy and speculate about the impact on the identity of Canadians. The curriculum covers agriculture, mining, trapping and fishing as uses that are discussed.
SSBA moves forward
The SSBA has passed a resolution at its annual meeting calling for a mandatory Indigenous studies course in Saskatchewan high schools, in addition to Indigenous teachings currently in the curriculum.
A review of the Grades 10 through 12 curriculum is set to begin in the near future. Duane Favel of the SSBA Aboriginal council will be part of that review committee. He said all the stakeholders will have to come together on these discussions where treaty materials may change.
“The best way forward is to get everybody on board and let’s say let’s agree on an approach,” Favel said.
“If everybody’s going to come on board and believe that this is the way forward to break down some of these barriers and share the rich history that both cultures have, I think would (be the) best way.”
With files from