The Provincial Executive relies on advice from many sources, including the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Advisory Work Group (FNMI AWG), made up of 12 Members who self-identify as First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit, as well as organizations and community groups representing Indigenous Peoples.
Over the past few months, OSSTF/FEESO has taken the following actions:
- Letter to the Minister of Education – April 2023
President Karen Littlewood sent a letter to the Minister of Education in April 2023, supporting the need for a curriculum related to Truth and Reconciliation. This included a call for a mandatory course for secondary students on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, cultures, living, and resiliency. The Canadian Teachers Federation made the initial request to put forth the letter of all the affiliates.
- Advice to the Ontario Teacher’s Federation – February and September 2023
A letter was sent to the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) about concerns regarding Indigenous education funding in Ontario. The letter requested that OTF seek information from the government on the following issues:
- Request that school boards across Ontario have more transparency with Indigenous education funding.
- Request that the Ministry of Education and school boards hire and retain more Indigenous teachers and education workers.
- Recommend funding for cultural wellness days for Indigenous school staff.
In response to that, conversations between OSSTF/FEESO and OTF continued and, with the recommendation from the FNMI AWG in June 2023, the OTF President wrote a letter to the Minister of Education and the Presidents of the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) and le Conseil ontarien des directions de l’éducation de langue française (CODELF) to request that they:
- Implement greater transparency and accountability in the way funding is provided and allocated for Indigenous education;
- Work with Indigenous communities and Elders to ensure that boards hire and retain Indigenous teachers and education workers teachers; and
- Provide funding for cultural wellness days to support the celebration of Indigenous events during the year.
- Common Threads 5 – Full Circle – 2023
Common Threads 5 – Full Circle was a curriculum resource developed and written by members of OSSTF/FEESO who self-identified as First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit, with support from Provincial Office staff, and was released to the membership in 2012. Earlier this year, Common Threads 5 was removed from the provincial website pending a review of some of the lessons on residential schools.
The review will involve consulting with the original First Nations, Métis, and Inuit OSSTF/FEESO writing team members to understand the critical learnings involved in these lesson plans. OSSTF/FEESO wants to ensure Indigenous voices are being heard and not erased while being trauma-sensitive when developing lesson plan outlines on the history of Residential Schools. Provincial Office will continue to consult and seek guidance from internal and external First Nations, Métis, and Inuit organizations and cultural resources on the next steps. In addition, Provincial Office will investigate mechanisms to readdress and review First Nations, Métis, and Inuit resources, as there is strong consensus not to negate the experience of other FNMI people who contributed to the lessons.
In the interim, members with access to a hard copy of the Common Threads 5 – Full Circle curriculum resource should exercise care when using the resource to teach about the residential school system. Members may want to look to other resources from Indigenous and Education organizations, including:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Legacy of Hope Foundation
- British Columbia Teacher Federation – Gladys We Never Knew: The life of a child in a BC Indian Residential School
- Canadian Teachers’ Federation – Speak Truth to Power Canada: Defenders for Human Rights.
- Canadian Labour Congress – Indigenous Rights and Justice Resource Center
- First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Association of Ontario – Public Resources
- Paths to Reconciliation – Paths to Reconciliation (canadiangeographic.ca)
- Manitoba Teacher’s Society – Secret Path Lesson Plans
- National Film Board of Canada – Indigenous Peoples in Canada (First Nations and Métis)
- Ontario Teacher’s Federation – Useful Links for Aboriginal Education
- Gord Downie’s The Secret Path
- Canadian Geographic – Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada