Quebec’s new curriculum short on Indigenous history: KSB
"There was no proper consultation"
The Kativik School Board says Quebec’s new secondary level history curriculum does not reflect the place of Inuit and other Indigenous groups in the province’s history.
A revamped version of Quebec’s History of Quebec and Canada curriculum was initiated under the last Parti Québécois government, with input from an advisory committee that included two staff from the Nunavik school board.
“We were there in good faith, hoping our advice would be incorporated,” said Robert Watt, vice-president of the KSB’s council of commissioners.
“And then we started realizing the recommendations weren’t being included. There was no proper consultation.”
The revised curriculum has been rolled out in some secondary three classrooms since last September, while the secondary four program is set to be introduced next September.
“There is Indigenous content, but not from our perspective,” said Watt of what he’s seen of the new program.
But he knows what is missing from it; the history of the Hudson Bay Co. launching the commercialization of Quebec’s North; the tuberculosis epidemic, which starting in the 1920s sent Inuit south for treatment; the dog slaughter of the 1950s and 1960s, and the relocation of Inuit from Inukjuak to Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord.
Watt notes that Nunavik’s workforce is filled by many southern transplants who know little of Inuit culture.
“If the information [taught] is not complete, they don’t know the kind of traumas we’ve had to endure,” he said. “It just creates more ignorance and more division.”
In failing to ensure its curriculum reflects the story of Quebec’s Indigenous groups, the school board says the province has also failed to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission education-related calls to action.
The KSB points to two specific recommendations: one to create a senior-level position in provincial government education departments dedicated to Indigenous content; the other to develop kindergarten to grade 12 learning resources on the role of Indigenous peoples in Canadian history and the legacy of residential schools.
The school board said it’s asking Quebec to acknowledge those recommendations, first issued in 2015, and its own recommendations on the history of Inuit in Quebec and Canada.
Watt said the province has yet to respond to the KSB’s concerns.
Nunavik Inuit aren’t the only group upset with the new provincial curriculum; a coalition of parents and teachers called the Committee for the Enhancement of the History Curriculum in Quebec says the program fails to give voice to Quebec’s minority communities, while vilifying Quebec’s Anglophone community.
The group has launched an online petition asking Education Minister Sébastien Proulx to revisit the curriculum.
“We need a history curriculum that reflects the diversity of Quebec society,” the group said in a release.