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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Unlearning Racism Against Indigenous Peoples

If we give them a chance, kids can help end racism against Indigenous people in Canada. And the best chance we can give them is through the schools.

But it can be unlearned. And new knowledge can change attitudes and behaviours. We see that every day at KAIROS. Our popular education tool, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, engages people of all ages in an interactive experience of the history of colonization in Canada, with information drawn from the comprehensive 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, and new insights from the recent TRC process.

Following the exercise, virtually every participant asks: "why didn't I know ?" And some, particularly students, are candid about how it has changed their attitudes. Some publicly apologize for what they now recognize as their own racism. A grade eight student said: "I now know how much Indigenous peoples have gone through and I will never forget."

 Some will argue that this is one more burden on an already overburdened public school curriculum. But, we see teachers hungry for the support, training, and authority that mandatory curricula can help generate. It is as much about teaching the history of Canada differently as it is about teaching more. Innovative educators have been led by the wisdom of Indigenous elders to "teach differently" across the curriculum, bringing diverse Indigenous insights into art, science, languages, even sports.