P.E.I. shares Indigenous education ideas at national meeting

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P.E.I. shares Indigenous education ideas at national meeting

Indigenous education was a major focus of a national meeting of education ministers in Vancouver last week.

P.E.I. Education Minister Jordan Brown shared some of the province's ideas at the Council of Ministers of Education.

"We're doing a lot here on Prince Edward Island that we can be very proud of," Brown said.

Among other initiatives, the province has developed a children's book about smudge ceremonies that is now part of P.E.I.'s kindergarten curriculum.

Mi'kmaq translation of O Canada

The province is also developing a Mi'kmaq translation of the Canadian national anthem, in collaboration with Chief Brian Francis of Abegweit First Nation.

The anthem was raised during a panel of Indigenous students from elementary school to university, Brown said.

"O Canada was a huge thing for one of the students. I told them we were doing this and they were fascinated and pumped, really."

The students discussed things educators could do that may seem small to others, but are very important to the Indigenous population.

"It's just the little things where others don't know necessarily about their culture or why they would be sensitive about certain things," Brown said.  

"That's what we can do in the education system — where we can start to recognize that culturally, this is what a whole people that we co-exist with here, that are Canadians, are all about. That we can celebrate their heritage as part of our heritage," the minister said.

'Recognize the wrongs we have caused to them'

"We can learn from what we have done in the past that is not good, and hopefully move forward together and do a lot better as a people to celebrate together what really makes us Canadian."

It's something every jurisdiction across the country needs to work on, Brown said.

"We have, unfortunately, a long history of not doing what we should have been doing to recognize Indigenous cultures and recognize the First Nations in our country, and really to recognize the wrongs we have caused to them.

"It can be very complicated to do that. It's now time we start to have that complicated and difficult conversation. That is starting in the education system."

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