The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), is implementing a new graduation requirement.
Expected to take effect in the 2023-24 school year, this requirement will ensure all secondary students complete Indigenous-focused coursework before they graduate from B.C.’s K-12 education system.
The North Shore News interviewed Tsleil-Waututh Nation School vice-principal Sarah Martz to discuss the new Indigenous-focused graduation requirements and what these changes mean to TWN. They also review what Tsleil-Waututh currently does to incorporate Indigenous education into the current school curriculum at siʔáḿθɘt.
The TWN School’s curriculum is mostly Indigenous-focused, Martz said, with many students taking Indigenous credits from Grade 10 upwards towards graduation. When thinking about what the requirement means to students across the province, Martz noted, “It makes sure it’s not just Indigenous students taking these courses… and I think makes sure that these courses are actually being taught in public, private, any school offering the B.C. curriculum.”
“I’m hoping that the courses keep developing as well and that the courses themselves will be put together by Indigenous people and the First Nations Education Steering Committee to verify that the content is accurate,” she said. “Because in the past, how social studies have been taught … it didn’t really highlight the vast diversity of peoples, of languages. It wasn’t an accurate representation of Indigenous people.”
Martz said the implementation of the requirement will help move away from misinformation about Indigenous people and will help to build stronger relationships with host nations on whose territory students and school communities live.