Provincial Indigenous Awareness Training & Support

Subject Governance
Year 2022
Status Defeated
Sponsor - Mover
Strathmore, Town of
Sponsor - Seconder
Rockyford, Village of
Active Clauses

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities advocate to the Government of Alberta to provide financial support to every school jurisdiction to enable all students (including homeschooled students) and teachers to learn about the lived experience of residential schools directly from Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers for the purposes of allowing those affected to heal and to ensure that the recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People are fulfilled upon.

Whereas Clauses

WHEREAS Canada has a history of residential schools which were created for the purposes of separating indigenous children from their families, weakening family ties and cultural linkages and indoctrinating children into a new culture; 

WHEREAS residential schools were in existence for well over 100 years and many successive generations of children from multiple communities and families endured the horrific experience of them;

WHEREAS the experience of those who endured residential schools was hidden until survivors of the system found the strength, courage and support to bring their experiences to light; and

WHEREAS it is vital that Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers be able to share their lived experiences directly with students and teachers in order to create greater awareness and support for these individuals and to continue implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action report and ensure alignment with the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People

Resolution Background

Alberta has one of the largest and fastest growing Indigenous populations in the country. The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities play an important role in the social, cultural and economic fabric of the Province.

However, the relationship and history between Indigenous communities and the Government of Canada is complicated and troublesome. Residential schools operated in Canada for over 100 years, with the last school closing in 1997. It is estimated that 150,000 children attended residential schools in Canada for the purposes of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living and assimilating them into mainstream Canadian society. The residential school system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods of time and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages. Children were severely punished if these, among other, strict rules were broken. Former students of residential schools have spoken of horrendous abuse at the hands of residential school staff: physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement came into effect in 2007. One of the components of the agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission’s purpose was to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities, and all Canadians. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada defines reconciliation as:

“An ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships. A critical part of this process involves repairing damaged trust by making apologies, providing individual and collective reparations, and following through with concrete actions that demonstrate real societal change.”

Alberta Municipalities has advocated for “Welcoming and Inclusive Communities.” A necessary component of an inclusive community is the engagement of Indigenous communities. 
The Truth and Reconciliation’s 43rd Call to Action states, “We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.” Reconciliation is a responsibility of all levels of government. 

The proposal before Alberta Municipalities’ members is to advocate that the Government of Alberta provide financial support and resources for the purposes of allowing Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers to share their lived experiences directly with students and teachers in Alberta’s education system.  It is imperative that survivors of the residential schools and their families are able to share their stories directly to allow opportunities for them to heal and to ensure that history is not repeated in the future.

The proposed action would be in alignment with the Truth and Reconciliation’s 62nd Call to Action, which calls upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to “[m]ake age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.”

Alberta Municipalities notes

ABmunis does not have a specific position on the content of curriculum for Alberta schools; however, ABmunis does work to provide training on Indigenous history and culture to its staff and support its members in building relationships with Indigenous communities and peoples through its Organizational Readiness Framework to Build Respectful Relations with Indigenous Communities. This Framework is part of the organization’s Municipal-Indigenous Relations initiative.