The New Ontario Language Curriculum: Representation of First Nation, Métis and Inuit Experiences 1/5
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its Right to Read inquiry report just over a year ago on February 28th, 2022. The report includes 157 recommendations directed at the Ministry of Education (as well as Ontario school boards, teachers college programs, and additional qualification (AQ) course providers) to make learning to read more equitable to all Ontario students. In response to this documentation, the Ontario Language Curriculum 1-8 (2023) was written and released on June 20th, 2023. The previous Ontario Language Curriculum 1-8 was released in 2006... over 15 years ago!
This is a five part blog series that seeks to summarize the 157 recommendations. Each blog post will focus on one of five themes presented in the OHRC Right to Read Report.
First Nation, Métis and Inuit Experiences
Curriculum and Instruction
Early Screening and Reading Interventions
Professional Assessments and Systematic Issues
We will look at the previous 2006 curriculum and other supporting documents to see why those recommendations were made. Then we will look at how the 2023 curriculum is written in response to the OHRC Right to Read Report.
Right to Read Recommendations 1-26 focus on First Nation, Métis and Inuit experiences
The first 26 recommendations focus on First Nation, Métis and Inuit experiences. Here are a few of the recommendations:
Addressing representation, consulting with local indigenous communities, and meeting the unique needs of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people
Improve access to First Nation, Métis, and Inuit language instruction and culture, knowledge, and perspectives to all students
Recognize First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Elders as knowledge keepers and educators
Recognize significant events and days (i.e. Treaties Recognition Week, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Powley Day and Louis Riel Day)
Incorporate Indigenous experiences, culture and values throughout classroom content
Culturally appropriate resources for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit (i.e. see their own identities positively represented; sense of belonging and pride)
Adopt trauma-informed and culturally sensitive approaches
Never discourage students from using or learning their language
The Previous 2006 Ontario Language Curriculum
In the previous 2006 Ontario Language Curriculum, we see the term 'Aboriginal' used only 12 times across the entire elementary curriculum (front matter and grade 1-8 content; it is a 155 page document). In terms of specific expectations in the 2006 curriculum, in grade 3 there is an expectation that emphasizes a variety of texts that includes 'traditional Aboriginal stories' as an optional theme. In Grade 6, students are asked to explore a variety of points of view (the portrayal of Aboriginal people is includes as a potential example). We see two more examples within grade 8 expectations that include indigenous people.
The New 2023 Ontario Language Curriculum
In the 2023 curriculum, we see 4 expectations in the grade 2 curriculum alone that explicitly include First Nation, Métis, and Inuit People and 1 overall expectation that includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals. These expectations exist in every grade (the curriculum covers grade 1-8).
Here are the 5 curriculum expectations for grade 2:
Overall Expectation A3. apply language and literacy skills in cross-curricular and integrated learning, and demonstrate an understanding of, and make connections to, diverse voices, experiences, perspectives, histories, and contributions, including those of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities, groups, and nations
Specific Expectation A3.2 demonstrate an understanding of the contributions, lived experiences, and perspectives of a diversity of individuals and communities, including those in Canada, by exploring the concepts of identity, self, and sense of belonging in culturally responsive and relevant texts
Specific Expectation A3.3 identify themes explored in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures to demonstrate an understanding of the varied identities, perspectives, relationships, legacies, truths, and ways of knowing, being, and doing
Specific Expectation C1.7 read, listen to, and view various forms of texts by diverse First Nations, Métis, and Inuit creators to demonstrate understanding of various aspects of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit histories, cultures, relationships, communities, groups, nations, and lived experiences
Specific Expectation C3.7 identify some ways in which texts created by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities, groups, or nations communicate about historical periods, cultural experiences, and events, and how they relate to current lived experiences
We see a clear shift in vocabulary and an increased emphasis on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit voice starting in grade 1. These changes align with the recommendations made in the OHRC Right to Read inquiry report. Every child at every grade level will be taught First Nations, Métis, and Inuit experiences.