FILE PHOTO: Indian Horse is based on the novel, which tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ojibway, who is forcibly taken from the land and his family and sent to residential school. (Photo contributed)

Students asked about the positive effects of residential schools

Alberta’s education minister apologized after hearing about the online social studies course

Alberta’s education minister apologized Thursday after learning an online social studies course asked students about the positive effects of residential schools.

Students were asked: “A positive effect of residential schools was?” The four multiple choice options listed were: that children were away from home, they learned to read, they became civilized and they were taught manners.

The question prompted a complaint from a student taking the course from the St. Paul Alternative Education Centre. A photo of the question was posted online Wednesday and was met with outrage.

“It’s such an offensive matter,” Education Minister David Eggen said Thursday after an event in Bon Accord, Alta. “For this kind of material to still be floating around in 2018 is just beyond the pale and quite frankly it’s the responsibility of all teachers and principals and school boards to make sure it doesn’t happen.

“I want to sincerely apologize to this student, their family, and anyone else who may have been exposed to this insensitive resource. There is no excuse for it and there is no place for it in our schools.”

RELATED: Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

The province has ordered school divisions to thoroughly review all courses offered to ensure they don’t include insensitive material.

“The legacy of residential schools is a dark period in our history, and we must journey together toward reconciliation,” said Eggen. “It is vital that this take place in a way that honours and brings awareness to the experiences of residential school survivors.”

The student did not immediately respond to an interview request.

The Grade 11 social studies course is advertised as exploring topics including First Nations, the development of modern-day Canada and Canada’s cultural diversity.

Glen Brodziak, superintendent of the St. Paul Education Regional Division, issued an apology on the school website.

“We are removing the inappropriate content from the resources we use to teach. We accept and take full responsibility for the use of this inappropriate material and for that we are deeply sorry,” said Brodziak.

He said it’s unfortunate that teachers didn’t catch the reference while reviewing the material handed out to students.

“At the end of the day, I still take responsibility but it was a pre-packaged course that is available today. You could sign up for this course today and it would be there,” he said.

“The principal has reached out to the family. We’ve also reached out to the four First Nations that we serve.”

The director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg said he’s not surprised that a question like that could still pop up. Ry Moran said there are still plenty of Canadians “clinging to the hope that this was generally a well-intentioned system that had a few bad apples.”

“The evidence runs completely contrary to that though,” Moran said.

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families and forced to attend government schools. The last school closed outside Regina in 1996.

RELATED: Controversial Nova Scotia professor fired after fire storm over comments

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard graphic testimony from survivors who detailed physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The commission estimated at least 6,000 children died at the schools.

Alberta needs to order a comprehensive review to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again, Moran said.

“Education is key in this and educating educators is very important … helping educators themselves teach this material,” Moran said.

“The other thing that’s really important as well is recognizing that question could be very harmful, could be very hurtful to people whose family members attended those residential schools.”

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Money from oil not worth the risk

Agassiz resident Sharon Francis writes about her opposition to the Trans Mountain Pipeline

Westbound crash on Highway 1 in Langley causing extreme traffic delays

Collision occured just after Glover Road, cars backed up all the way to 264th Street

Harrison Festival to host viewing of local ‘Still Standing’ episode

Comedian Jonny Harris came to Harrison Hot Springs in January to film part of his TV series

Blowback from the Trudeau in brownface debacle reaches Chilliwack

PM in questionable photos released in the middle of the federal election campaign had ripple effects

‘I just can’t believe it’: Agassiz swimmer brings home six medals from seniors games

Patti Komar won three gold and three silver medals in her first competition in 48 years

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

Hiker rescued after spending night on Crown Mountain

North Shore Rescue spotted the woman by helicopter over Hanes Valley

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Vancouver Giants complete weekend sweep of Cougars

Back-to-back road trip victories for Langley-based team

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Most Read