Indigenous focus in the new curriculum helps students develop 'mastery'

Schools & Students

Fifth in a series on BC’s new curriculum and what it means for VSB students.

“Work on yourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically,” said Duane Howard to an auditorium of Grade 8 to 12 students at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary.

The East Vancouver native and Hollywood actor most recognized for his role as Elk Dog in the Oscar-nominated film The Revenant had many inspiring messages and life lessons for the students. The event, which also featured Christies Lee Charles and singer Jerry-Lynn Webster “JB the First Lady”, was part of the annual Multicultural Week at Churchill Secondary. The week is organized by Nicole Brazeau, an Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker, who was approached by Churchill administrators to organize the event.

Brazeau believes that for BC’s Indigenous education to be effective in improving the success of Indigenous students, fostering a sense of belonging is the first step. “When they have a sense of belonging they have culture and community in place, then they are able to develop mastery,” she says. “To me, that’s body, mind, and spirit.”

With the new BC curriculum, which is now in place for Kindergarten through Grade 9 and rolling out to all BC secondary schools by 2019, there is an important emphasis on incorporating Indigenous worldviews, culture and perspectives into all grade levels and all subject areas. This includes concepts about identity, the power of story, and learning from the land. The new curriculum expands inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge throughout the learning process, rather than only being part of specific courses or at specific grade levels.

Brazeau says the Indigenous component of the new curriculum has enhanced her work. “I felt more confident and able to deliver teachings from my ancestors,” she explains. “I feel more comfortable not just expressing who I am as an Indigenous person, but being advocate for students, and able to share the diversity of other people, other cultures.”

Moreover, Brazeau has noticed more interest from her non-Indigenous colleagues to learn about her culture, as the school district and people throughout the province expand their interest in Indigenous perspectives.


Read the other stories in this series:

What does the new curriculum look like: An overview of BC's redesigned learning

New curriculum fosters life-long learning for Walter Moberly Elementary's kindergarten class 

New curriculum begins next year for Grade 10s, meaning new options for this year's Grade 9s in course selection

By creating podcasts with seniors, Tecumseh students learn about communication, a core competency of BC's new curriculum