Opposition critic Sol Mamakwa says making Indigenous studies an elective course for high school students isn't enough. He was joined by the leadership of Nishnawkbe Aski Nation, who say they weren't properly consulted on the new curriculum. It was launched last week in Thunder Bay.

“The First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies curriculum must be mandatory, and it must reflect the experiences, voices and wisdom of Indigenous communities,” said Mamakwa, in a prepared statement.

The member for Kiiwetinoong added the premier wasn't taking this call to action seriously, Mamakwa noted, with reference to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations. The MPP said the result is that the new curriculum drags us backwards, further away from reconciliation.

The curriculum was officially launched last week in Thunder Bay. Education Minister Lisa Thompson noted it is comprised of 10 secondary courses. These elective courses will provide students with up-to-date learning about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives, cultures, contributions and contemporary realities in areas such as art, literature, law, humanities, politics and history. It also enhances the ability for educators to support students in their learning.

"We are committed to ensuring that Indigenous perspectives are present in Ontario's curriculum," said Thompson. "We look forward to continuing strong partnerships with Indigenous leaders and the community, and this represents an important step in our ongoing collaboration."

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler also offered his thoughts on the initiative.

“We are disappointed that the province has walked back its commitment to the curriculum by offering it as elective courses instead of making it mandatory per the TRC Calls to Action. We are also perplexed at how a provincial education curriculum aimed truth-sharing and improving relations with Indigenous Peoples can be launched without our full involvement. First Nations are not stakeholders; we are rights-holders and Treaty partners. Any relationship must be built on this relationship, yet this government has left out most of the important voices. We will accept the offer by the Minister to meet in June but she has to be prepared to make significant adjustments if this is going to work,” Fiddler said.

For more information:

Ontario Launches First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies Curriculum

Indigenous communities shut out, NDP