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Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos on the importance of Indigenous content in classrooms

Teaching students about Canada’s historical oppression of Indigenous peoples is necessary for moving towards reconciliation as a country, says Dr. Ansloos

By Kaitlyn Balkovec

July 13, 2018

Watch: Professor Jeffrey Ansloos explains why it's critical to include Indigenous content in classrooms (video by Marianne Madeline Lau). 

Earlier this week, the Ontario Ministry of Education cancelled a project to update provincial curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels with Indigenous content.

Educators and Indigenous elders were set to meet in Toronto to participate in curriculum revision sessions over the next two weeks but received emails Friday afternoon stating the project had been cancelled.

Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Mental Health at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, said that he felt disappointed upon hearing the news.

"I think this decision reflects both a lack of awareness and political commitment. This shift in policy represents a more urgent issue, which is that in Canada at large, we don’t prioritize talking about the impact of our social history with Indigenous peoples,” he said. “This is such a needed area of curriculum revision, and it’s a shame that it’s been cancelled."

The curriculum update stemmed from recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the 2015 Calls to Action to teach students about the legacy of residential schools and the histories of Indigenous people in Canada.

"The implementation of these calls to action are critical to advancing the process of reconciliation and Indigenous Peoples' rights," said Dr. Ansloos.

"What I want Indigenous students to know, is that even if the government cuts its budget and refuses to make this a priority, we’re not going to give up on you,” he added. “We’re going to continue to do our part every day to think of better ways to make education a safer space for you."

Watch the video above to hear Dr. Ansloos discuss the importance, benefits, and necessity of Indigenous content in classrooms.

OISE resources to help educators integrate Indigenous content in the classroom: