‘Everyone else needs this education’: Rally held against housing schools and Bill 64

WINNIPEG – Nearly 100 people gathered in the front steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building to protest inaccuracies in housing school history and Bill 64.

The meeting was scheduled after the new Home Affairs Minister, Alan Lagimodiere, said at a Thursday conference that the architects at residential schools thought they were doing the right thing.

Rally organizer and schoolteacher Michael Kirkness said the topic of residential schools should be a major focus of the Manitoba curriculum.

“If I had it my way, for one (the history of housing school) would not be something resembling an anecdote within the social science curriculum, it must be something that is mandatory,” Kirkness said.

Kirkness believes Lagimodiere’s comments about residential schools represent a failure in the Manitoba education system.

In light of these comments, he is concerned about how much authority Bill 64 will give the PC government when it comes to education.

“There has to be some kind of understanding between natives and non-natives, and it’s about education.”

On Thursday, NDP leader Wab Kinew interrupted Lagimodiere’s comments and corrected him regarding the history of the housing schools.

Kinew said we need to call these comments out and talked about the need for education and understanding.

“Unless we have a real understanding of the situation, we will not be able to move forward,” Kinew said. “If we have an MLA that does not understand the truth in housing schools, it will be very difficult to have a minister who can promote reconciliation.”

Lagimodiere has since apologized for his comments.

One of the many participants in the convention was Wayne Stranger.

He was a teacher in the province and said he saw a lack of representation of indigenous peoples in the curriculum.

“What I saw in those ten years was still a lot of disruption in the system. About who we are as people, where we come from, what our knowledge base was and is today. ”

In a statement to CTV News, Education Minister Cliff Cullen said in part:

“Delivering traditional knowledge and learning to all students remains our priority with a stronger presence and value on native knowledge and perspectives. Our Better Education Starts Today strategy is committed to supporting reconciliation by improving all educators and students’ understanding of the past and present contributions of the treaties, housing schools, and indigenous peoples. ”

One commitment outlined in the Our Better Education Starts Today strategy is to increase the presence of native perspectives in curriculum K to 12.

Kirkness said most natives know about homeschooling, but it’s something all Canadians should know about.

“(Natives) know well what happened and what continues to happen as a result,” Kirkness said. “Everyone else needs this education. All the children in our system need to understand this. ”

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