More British Columbia students will benefit from the traditional knowledge and culture of Indigenous peoples, thanks to a new Indigenous teacher education curriculum at Vancouver Island University (VIU).
The Ministry of Education is funding 15 teacher training seats at VIU’s Cowichan campus. As a result of this funding, VIU will collaborate with the Cowichan Tribes and other local bands to develop a new education curriculum, ensuring more teachers are trained to bring Indigenous perspectives into classrooms.
“Cowichan Tribes is grateful for this funding opportunity, which involves Indigenous Specialists and additional First Nation teachers, equipped to deal with issues relating to Residential Schools, as we move towards Reconciliation,” said Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour.
“A true and lasting reconciliation is at the heart of everything we do, and there’s no question Indigenous students thrive when their culture is reflected in classrooms and they have a connection to what they are learning,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Teachers can be incredible role models for change. They have the power to show kids we all benefit from understanding the diversity of Indigenous perspectives and world views.”
The ministry is implementing the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The new curriculum helps to ensure K-12 students learn Indigenous perspectives in all grades and subjects – from math to science to literature.
“Investing in Indigenous teacher education responds to a direct Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, number 62,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Our investment in 15 Indigenous teaching spaces at VIU’s Cowichan campus is 'reconcili-Action' and good for children from every background. It allows Indigenous students to see themselves in their teachers, while creating critical opportunities for Indigenous educators as leaders in the education ecosystems.”
While government has funded the hiring of 3,700 teaching positions over the last year, there are still shortages in high-demand areas such as Indigenous education, French and special needs. That’s why the Ministry of Education has added over 179 new teacher-training spaces to bring in more teachers in the highest-demand fields.
To increase opportunities for Indigenous teacher training, the Ministry of Education also provided $260,000 in the 2017-18 school year for B.C. universities to develop and expand Indigenous teacher education programs.
David Paterson, dean of education, Vancouver Island University –
“With this funding, VIU will be able to expand our teacher education program in a way that furthers the critical process of reconciliation, allowing us to equip future teachers with the knowledge of how to bring culturally relevant practices into their classrooms and support Indigenous learners. This type of education is important for all teachers, as is the approach we are taking to develop this curriculum - through a community of practice founded on strong partnerships and collaboration with Indigenous communities.”
Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee –
“To reflect the student population, B.C. requires roughly 5,000 Aboriginal teachers and so we welcome this initiative, which is consistent with B.C.’s commitments in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan. Increasing the number of Aboriginal teachers is a necessary step toward supporting Aboriginal students, providing positive Aboriginal role models, and making First Peoples perspectives more accessible to all B.C. students.”
Brianna Thorne, who is of mixed Indigenous ancestry, second-year bachelor of education student at VIU's Cowichan Campus –
“I believe that incorporating Indigenous perspectives in teacher training is essential because it encourages future educators to think outside the traditional box of teaching. Indigenous knowledge offers students the opportunity to explore the world around them in terms of their relationship to everything on our planet. It teaches about respect, forgiveness, humility and reciprocity. Indigenous knowledge has so much to offer for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.”
- The Ministry of Education funded $65,000 for the 15 new additional Indigenous teacher education seats at VIU. The program will be available for students by fall 2019.
- Total government funding in 2018 for developing Indigenous teacher programs and expanding seats was $400,000.
- For 2017-18, the Ministry of Education provided an extra $190,000 in one-time funding to support resource development for Indigenous language curricula for 17 Indigenous languages.
- In the 2017-18 school year, there were 65,269 Indigenous students enrolled in public schools, comprising 11.6% of the public-school student population.