In July 2018, just weeks after taking office, the Ford Conservatives cancelled three curriculum writing sessions related to fulfilling the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, American Sign Language and Indigenous Languages in kindergarten. The cancellations, which took place at the last minute, inconvenienced not only educators but also elders and knowledge keepers who had been scheduled to assist with completing this important work. The cancellation occurred as part of a government move to clamp down on travel spending across the public service.
In the following letter to The Honourable Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, President Hammond requests an update on when these important sessions will be rescheduled, and reiterates the importance of providing educators with up-to-date resources for teaching about FNMI issues and reconciliation.
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
Fédération des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'élémentaire de l'Ontario
136 Isabella Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 0B5
September 11, 2018
The Honourable Lisa ThompsonMinister of Education22nd Floor, Mowat Block900 Bay StreetToronto, ON M7A 1L2
I am writing to request an update regarding the Ministry of Education's decision to suspend curriculum writing sessions that were scheduled to take place over the summer; including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission curriculum revisions, American Sign Language, and Indigenous languages in Kindergarten.
When these planned writing sessions were cancelled, at the last minute and without notice, there was significant concern expressed not only by stakeholder organizations in the education sector but also by Indigenous organizations and First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders.
When we last spoke in July, I understood that the writing sessions would be rescheduled. However, we have not received any information as to when these sessions would resume.
As you know the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has a strong commitment in seeing these curriculum writing sessions re-scheduled as soon as possible. In particular, the curriculum revisions resulting from recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are a priority for our members as these are an important and necessary step towards reconciliation.
Our recent member polling indicated that while the majority of our members want to teach about First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues, many feel they lack the resources to do so and have not had the opportunity to attend relevant professional learning/development sessions through their school board.
The Federation will continue to bring forward our members' concerns on this issue and we look forward to seeing these curriculum writing sessions completed.
I would be happy to discuss this matter with you in person and look forward to your response.