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Alberta curriculum under fire for 'whitewashing' Canada's history

Last Updated Mar 31, 2021 at 7:49 am MDT

EDMONTON – Alberta’s proposed school curriculum for kindergarten to Grade 6 students is coming under fire for its proposed changes to social studies.

Carla Peck, a University of Alberta education associate professor, said it’s way over kids’ heads, with Grade 2 students learning about the fall of Rome and the reign of Charlemagne.

Peck said there’s so much information, the kids are being taught to recite facts rather than learn critical thinking.

Margie Patrick with King’s University said the religion section is so massive and detailed it risks going past learning into the realm of religious indoctrination.

The UCP has since reworded a part of the curriculum on religion following backlash.

The initial document was criticized when it said “acceptance of new religions comes less easily — partly because newcomers bring new and unfamiliar religious practices.”

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said things like this create even greater divides between people who have lived her for a long time and newcomers.

“Maybe that’s the government’s intention. My intention is to make sure that we are fighting for a curriculum that all kids see themselves reflected in, that reflects people in this province and where we are heading tomorrow and give kids the tools to be successful adults.”

Yvonne Poitras Pratt, a Metis scholar at the University of Calgary, said it glosses over First Nations prehistory and relegates Indigenous peoples to bit players in the celebratory history of European migration to North America.

Premier Jason Kenney the proposed school’s curriculum after growing criticism that the new draft is whitewashing Alberta’s history.

During a Facebook live Monday night Jason Kenney pushed back saying that the historical injustices were taught out of context.

“There are some who would like to teach that Canada is basically unjust settler state and that our entire history is one of injustice and genocide. I think that is a terrible and distorted historical view of this amazing country we have built.”

WATCH: Parents react to proposed curriculum changes

Some Albertans aren’t holding back on what they really think about the new K to 6 plan.

Posts have flooded Twitter since the curriculum was released Monday with one saying, “the government’s proposed curriculum make our kid’s education more colonial, dis-gendered, American and whiter.”

“Racism, like religion is a social fact. It is interesting that the draft seems to devote pages to religion but not to racism.”

“No black influences on jazz music, no Chinese building railroads. Only residential schools in the US…Racism never happened in AB’s history.”

“We cannot understand society today or where we have come to society today unless we understand the experiences that all people in Canada have had,” said Peck

Peck said while some history of Indigenous and Metis people are included in the draft, there is no mention of residential schools until grade 5.

“The way it’s characterized in grade 5, the emphasis is on residential schools in the United States which I don’t have any explanation why that’s the case,” said

She added that the delay in learning about residential schools goes against recommendations made by the truth and reconciliation committee that students start learning about parts of Canada’s darkest history as early as kindergarten.

“No meaningful discussion of the diversity of Alberta, it’s really problematic when you think about it from a multi-cultural perspective.”

The new curriculum will be introduced this fall to some schools before its official rollout in 2022.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange is taking feedback on the proposed curriculum over the next year and stresses it is still in draft form.

 

With files from Rachelle Elsiufi, CityNews Edmonton