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Concerns over quotation marks when referring to residential school survivors in UCP draft curriculum

CALGARY — In the highly criticized UCP draft curriculum – there are more concerns over the Indigenous social studies material. The curriculum using quotation marks when describing Residential School survivors.

Spirit River Striped Wolf, an Indigenous public speaker, says the quotes take away the validity of the pain experienced by those who attended residential schools.

“And if we put doubt on whether Indigenous folks who have gone through residential schools can be classified as survivors, we’re not getting to the truth,” said Striped Wolf.

Michelle Robinson, an Indigenous activist, says there is a long history of downplaying the experiences of residential school survivors and this incident only continues the trend.

“Indian residential schools would only be in quotes as a way to undermine the issue. It’s a blatant disregard for the issue and nowhere close to reconciliation if they can’t handle this truth,” Robinson said.

Meanwhile, Pamela Woytiuk is part of a group on Facebook with 41,000 members who find issues with the draft curriculum.



She emailed her MLA, Dale Nally, explaining her concerns with the use of the quotations, especially following the discovery of 215 children’s bodies at a former residential school in Kamloops. In his email response, which was sent to CityNews by Woytiuk, Nally responded saying, “Critics have been trying to find isolated parts of the curriculum to use as an argument why it should not be used. I do not know why quotation marks were used around survivors. However, I went back to look at it and I wasn’t offended by it.”

“It’s really unfortunate that we have elected officials in these positions that are undermining and underplaying the gravity of this issue,” said Robinson.

The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations is calling for a total rework, while The Metis Nation of Alberta announced Monday they are suing the government for improper consultation before drafting the curriculum.

“The chiefs have taken a position, along with the MNA and as we see bits and pieces come out, well, that’s because the curriculum is a fault one, and so it needs to be re-done,” said Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, the executive director of the Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation.

CityNews reached out to Education Minister Adriana Lagrange and MLA Dale Nally for response, but they have yet to respond.