Question About “Positive Effect” of Residential Schools in Student’s Work Leads to Apology from St. Paul Education Superintendent

The superintendent for St. Paul Education Regional Division has apologized after a controversial question about a “positive effect” of residential schools went viral Thursday morning on Facebook.

“It is our duty as teachers to preview all the materials that are presented to our students on an ongoing basis,” said Glen Brodziak superintendent of schools for St. Paul Education Regional Division in a press release Thursday.

“We are removing the inappropriate content from the resources we use to teach. We accept and take full responsibility for the use of this inappropriate material and for that we are deeply sorry,” he said.

The multiple choice question from a Social Studies 20-4 ADLC provided workbook was “A positive effect of residential schools.”

Possible answers were:

-children were away for home

-children learned to read

-children were taught manners

-children became civilized

The student who originally shared the question is believed to be from Saddle Lake, and takes classes in St. Paul.

“Whether it be as an educator, or more importantly, as a Canadian citizen, we all need to recognize the impact of residential schools.  I can’t imagine what it was like to be in a residential school, nor would I ever speak on behalf of survivors. It is their story to tell. It is our job to support these survivors and correct the wrongs from the past. The students that we serve on a daily basis are really 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation survivors and we must continue to recognize the impact of residential schools on families,” said Brodziak in the release.

Minister of Education, David Eggen, said in press release he was “appalled” to see the question on a student’s material.

“As such, we must do all we can to ensure this never happens again. That’s why I have instructed Alberta Education to conduct a review of material used by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre to make sure the use of this resource – and any others like it – is immediately discontinued.

“Later today, the Deputy Minister of Education will be contacting every school authority in the province to ask them to take proactive steps to prevent students from being exposed to material like this. I will also be personally reaching out to the student who was subjected to this hateful material to apologize and issue an invitation to a curriculum roundtable on Indigenous education that I am hosting next week.

“As the Minister of Education, I believe this unfortunate situation highlights just how important the work we’re doing to update the K-12 curriculum is. Some of the material still in our classrooms today was written as far back as the 1990s, when the last residential schools were still in operation. Every student in Alberta should be learning about the profound damage and harm that was done to generations of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who were forced to attend residential schools – full stop.

“We will remove this hateful material from our schools and we owe it to our children to give them the education they need to succeed in their futures,” said Eggen.