Educating settler-culture Canadians to understand the issues

Elizabeth May

Mr. Chair, I found the personal reminiscences of my friend from Saskatoon—Grasswood and the work he did on the school board to be quite inspiring.

I am just wondering about turning our attention to another part of needed education, and that is the education of settler-culture Canadians to understand the issues. I do not think we will be able to achieve reconciliation without a far deeper appreciation on the part of settler-culture Canadians of the wrong that has been done and of the intergenerational searing pain and injustice that remains present. It is not historical. It is present throughout indigenous communities from the residential school system. I wonder if as an educator, the member can think about what we need to do to educate settler-culture Canadians as has been recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kevin Waugh – Member for Saskatoon-Grasswood

Mr. Chair, we have to use our resources. One of the greatest resources we have, which is not being used, are the elders. They are there for us. They want to participate in first nations education. They just have to be tapped to come and tell their story.

I know when I first got on the board of education, I did not know what smudging meant. I did not know it was that important, but for first nations students when they got up in the day and wanted to come to school, that was part of their culture. It is a give and take. I needed to learn that, and a lot of us in the system need to learn that. When we do learn their cultures, we have a better understanding and it is easier for students to get up in the morning and go to school. That is the biggest obstacle that we have in this country, where kids from K to 12 are still in bed at 10 and 11 in the morning and do not come to school, and we pay for it later.