Town advocates for more Indigenous awareness in public education

·2 min read

The Town of Strathmore is advocating for the Government of Alberta to provide funding and resources to allow Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers to share their experiences in the public education system.

On May 30 the Town held a Special Council Meeting to discuss a proposition to advocate to the province in support of Indigenous awareness training and support.

Denise Peterson opened with a motion that the Town of Strathmore bring forth the resolution entitled “Provincial Indigenous Awareness Training and Support” for consideration at the 2022 Alberta Municipalities Convention in the fall.

“This is related to the discussions that have been ongoing that originated with Siksika Councillor Herman Yellow Woman in 2015, where they talked about the necessity of bringing lived, experienced voices into the education system,” said Peterson. “The reasoning behind that is … until very recently, (there was) a lot of conversation about deficits in our curriculum, in terms of how we related issues of Indigenous history in this country.”

Town administration described it as imperative in the public agenda package that residential school survivors be allowed to share their lived experiences and stories within public education.

Peterson, in addressing her motion, said there is a deficit of authentic voices – referring to such survivors who have been able to share their experiences.

“One of the things that continued from this and in conversations with Butch Wolf Lake, who did our training, was this small thing that we could accomplish to urge our provincial government to envelope funding in Alberta education for schools, school’s jurisdiction and homeschoolers to be able to access those authentic voices and learning in support for curriculum,” said Peterson. “For instance, today we have in the Alberta curriculum, Blackfoot language and culture, we have aboriginal studies, but one of the things that teachers have said to me over the last four years … is that they do not have funding or access to bring in those authentic voices to speak to those issues.”

“In order to get proper sentiment … right understandings and sound and solid information, having access to these people is very critical in the truth and reconciliation … process,” continued Peterson.

As a point of clarification, Peterson noted the Town is not suggesting the province add additional funding to that which already exists.

“We are not asking taxpayers to pay more money to this end, we’re just asking for mindfulness around dedicating something that they would determine would be reasonable to allow schools and jurisdictions to bring this forward,” Peterson explained.

The motion was carried unanimously. Strathmore will also be forwarding the resolution to the Village of Rockyford for their council to consider seconding.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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