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Secret Path by Gord Downie becomes part of Alberta's education resource package

“Resources like this are what so many eager and committed teachers are looking for as they take their place as change-makers and leaders in reconciliation." — Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of the Downie Wenjack Foundation

By Paula E. Kirman
Windspeaker.com Contributor

Education Minister David Eggen today announced new resources to support reconciliation and the inclusion of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit history, perspectives and contributions into the current Grade 1 to Grade 9 curriculum.

At the Martha Cohen School in Calgary, Eggen said all students will learn about the history and legacy of residential schools and the history of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in Canada as part of the government of Alberta’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“It is critical our students understand the history of residential schools, along with the histories and vibrant cultures of Indigenous communities and the role we all have to play in reconciliation. It’s equally important teachers have the tools they need to feel empowered to teach this important material in the classroom as we work to prepare our students for success,” he said.

According to a media release sent out following Minister Eggen's announcement, lesson plans have been developed for English Language Arts, Fine Arts, Science, and Social Studies, using identified outcomes in Alberta’s current Programs of Study. They are available as a resource for teachers for use at the discretion of the school jurisdiction, school, or teacher.

“Secret Path” is one such resource that is identified. It is a multi-media project that includes a solo album by the late Gord Downie, along with a graphic novel and an animated film, based on the story of Chanie Wenjack. Wenjack was a young boy who died while trying to return home after escaping from a residential school. Downie was best-known as the frontman of the Tragically Hip. He died on Oct. 17 from brain cancer. Earlier this year, he was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada for his work raising awareness of Indigenous issues.

“Resources like this are what so many eager and committed teachers are looking for as they take their place as change-makers and leaders in reconciliation. Teachers are key to the foundational shift that is beginning right across the country. Many Albertans are learning the truth about residential schools and Indigenous peoples in Canada for the first time. These lesson plans will support teachers as they build connections with and for their students and develop authentic, meaningful learning experiences,” said Charlene Bearhead, co-chair of the Downie Wenjack Foundation.

Minister Eggen's announcement today advances the commitment made by Alberta in June 2016 to develop new curriculum across six core subject areas, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content at every grade level. In addition, through the Joint Commitment to Action, signed in June 2016, Alberta Education is  collaborating with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Alberta Association of Deans of Education, the Alberta School Boards Association, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to ensure school staff have access to the professional learning opportunities they need to deliver this content.

- with information provided by the Press Secretary, Education

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