Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. Advisers are reportedly recommending Alberta's kindergarten to Grade 4 arts and social studies curriculum remove all references to residential schools because it's "too sad" for young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Documents suggest children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools

The chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says young children aren’t too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools as a leaked draft of proposed Alberta curriculum changes suggests.

Senator Murray Sinclair says survivors have shared their stories with young children and there’s no evidence it was damaging.

A draft of proposed Alberta curriculum changes obtained by CBC News suggests that children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools.

In documents posted on CBC’s website, the government is advised to save that topic for older children and that Grade 9 students could potentially learn about residential schools as one example of “harsh schooling” in the past.

While Canadian residential schools are described as “traumatic material,” the draft for the kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculum recommends students be taught about ancient Rome, battles of the Middle Ages and slavery in the Ottoman Empire.

The commission’s report in 2015 called on ministers of education to include the history and legacy of residential schools in kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculums.

It described the Canadian government’s long-running policy of removing Indigenous children from their communities as cultural genocide.

Sinclair, during an online conversation Wednesday with the Assembly of Manitoba chiefs, said the most important part of the residential schools story is their impact on younger children.

It’s clear a curriculum could be developed and taught to young children without causing any emotional damage, said Sinclair, who added that many attended Truth and Reconciliation Commission events.

“There is no situation that has ever occurred that I’m aware of that there has been a complaint that the children are negatively impacted or damaged by the experience.”

The authors of the proposed curriculum changes also advise that the concept of equity not be taught because it is “ideologically loaded.”

Alberta Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson dismissed criticism from the Opposition NDP about the curriculum proposals as fearmongering.

“These are merely recommendations that will go to the curriculum working group of teachers later this fall,” he wrote on Twitter.

“At face value, some of these recommendations just aren’t realistic — especially for the ages suggested. Again, they’re recommendations. These documents are not the curriculum.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary. With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

AlbertaEducationIndigenousresidential schoolsSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

Members of the Abbotsford Community Action Team include (from left) Bev Olfert, Rebecca Tice, Tally Clement, Const. Mary Boonstra, Mandy Aujla, Wanda Phillips and Devinder Dherari-Sidhu. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford group raises awareness about sexual exploitation of youth

Community Action Team uses posters, stickers and online information

The driver of a pickup truck failed to stop after knocking down a wooden fence on March 3, 2021. (screen grab)
VIDEO: Footage catches pick-up driver smashing fence on Abbotsford/Langley border

Driver came forward after video circulated on social media

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Two men taken to hospital after fight on Keeping Road in Abbotsford

One of the men suffers serious injuries in incident on Thursday night

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement significantly expands Indigenous role in Lower Mainland policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Most Read