English First Peoples Added to the BC English Curriculum

Our Schools, Our Selves, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

English First Peoples Added to the BC English Curriculum


Three new courses with a First Peoples focus have been added to the British Columbia curriculum. These are English 10, 11 and 12 First Peoples and each is an alternative course for the required English credits in grades 10 through 12. They join the already existing BC First Nations Studies 12 which can be used for the compulsory social studies credit. All courses are open to any interested student although they are offered only in some schools.

The courses were developed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) in partnership with the BC Ministry of Education flowing from a jurisdictional agreement between the BC government and FNESC. A large group of elders and community members were consulted throughout the writing of the courses.

The term First Peoples has an inclusive meaning. According to the curriculum guide, it "refers to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, as well as Indigenous peoples around the world."

The resources for the English courses focus on values, beliefs and lived realities of First People through a variety of texts including story, speech, drama, dance, song, film and prose. Central themes include identity and the significance of colonization.

The principles that are a base for the curriculum include that learning is wholistic and relational, involves generational roles and recognizes the role of Indigenous knowledge as well as that "some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations." The pedagogical basis is that learning is learner focused and experiential and recognizes the value of group processes.

Among the issues addressed in the texts are male and female roles, race, racism, social status, interpretations of wealth and poverty, violence, sexuality, and sexual orientation, including "twospiritedness. …

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