Opinion: Workbook glosses over colonial history of Canada
Earlier this week a concerned parent posted an image from a children’s workbook — the “Complete Canadian Curriculum Grade 3” — that left the internet shook.
A synopsis of the history section of the workbook called ‘Moving Out’ says “When the European settlers arrived, they needed land to live on. The First Nations peoples agreed to move to different areas to make room for the new settlements.”
Reaction to the discovery has been a healthy range of disgust, embarrassment and ultimately — humiliation for the publisher, Popular Book Company Canada, based in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
Initially the publisher responded by saying in the next edition they would amend their mistake. But that was clearly not good enough for Canadians of all backgrounds. After social media put the company on blast for both the initial mistake and their tone deaf response, they issued a statement Tuesday saying they were immediately recalling the book.
In 2015 the provincial government made steps to revise the way history between indigenous people and settlers is taught in elementary and secondary schools – with consultation and curriculum developed by indigenous scholars from both the Annishnabe and Haudenosaunee communities.
Here is an excerpt from Ontario’s website — and what they say about the story of the settlers.
“First Nations were the original occupants of this land we call Ontario. Our shared history begins around 400 years ago, when Europeans first arrived.
“Treaties between the British Crown (government) and Indigenous peoples were negotiated and signed with the intent of delivering mutual benefits.
“Despite the promise of early treaties and the respectful, nation-to-nation partnerships they established, Indigenous Peoples became the target of colonial policies designed to exploit, assimilate and eradicate them.
“Today, the Ontario government recognizes the wrongs of previous generations and is committed to changing the future by rebuilding relationships based on trust and respect.
“Part of that commitment includes educating Ontarians about the role treaties play in each of our lives and in our relationships with each other. “Though they were signed more than a century ago, treaty commitments are just as valid today as they were then. Every Ontarian is a treaty person.”