TORONTO – The Ministry of Education will be introducing mandatory Indigenous cultural competency and anti-racism training for every employee in the Ontario Public Service and implementing mandatory learning expectations in Ontario’s public education system curriculum.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement on Feb. 17 and it was developed to ensure that the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the importance of treaties is added to the curriculum in all Ontario’s public schools.
“We cannot build a brighter future unless we first understand how the historical treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada has created unfair circumstances and harsh realities in Indigenous people’s lives today,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “By making changes to our public school curriculum and introducing mandatory training in Indigenous cultural competency for Ontario’s public servants, we are taking an important step on the path to reconciliation. Our government is committed to working with Indigenous partners to provide programs that respond to the real needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.”
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said the cultural competency training for all public service employees is a positive step in terms of fulfilling Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) action items and signals the Ontario government is standing firm in its political accord with the Chiefs of Ontario.
“I welcome this training and hope our renewed relationship through the Political Accord and the TRC action items spur further progress with the Ontario government,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “Everyone in Canada needs to be aware of and understand the history and current priorities of the Indigenous peoples of this country, not only within the schools but in the halls of the public sector where many vital decisions are made on our behalf.”
All public servants will complete training that includes:
- Participating in interactive activities about culture, stereotyping and the consequences and legacies of colonization.
- Learning about tools that can help develop more effective communications and relationship-building skills to promote positive partnerships with Indigenous people.
- Exploring how to enhance services to Indigenous people.
- Topics such as terminology, diversity, aspects of colonial history such as residential schools and Indian hospitals and contexts for understanding social disparities and inequities.
- A focus on the problem of violence against Indigenous women.
New training and education for the people of Ontario is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The recently released TRC report included 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.
“Premier Wynne and her colleagues in the Ontario Government are once again demonstrating leadership with the introduction of this training. Acting quickly on the TRC recommendations and the Political Accord,” said Patrick Madahbee, Grand Council Chief, Union of Ontario Indians. “Ontario is solidifying its relationship with First Nations. Enabling public servants to become more aware of First Nation perspectives will foster better decision-making and understanding of First Nation issues.”