Brandon mom shocked to find worksheet with racist Indigenous stereotypes in son’s schoolwork

A Brandon mother says she was shocked to see her son had been assigned a math worksheet featuring racist stereotypes against Indigenous people. Submitted/Grace Masse

A Brandon, Man., mother says she’s considering filing a human rights complaint after her son found a worksheet depicting racist stereotypes against Indigenous people in a package of his take-home schoolwork.

Grace Masse, who is Indigenous, says she was shocked to see the handout, which features a cartoon depiction of an Indigenous man with a bow and arrow riding a horse and chasing a horse-driven wagon with what appears to be white pioneers at the reins.

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“It brought back so much hurt,” Masse said in an interview with 680 CJOB.

“It just draws a line between Indigenous and non-Indigenous and just opens up the marginalization of Indigenous peoples. It was pretty upsetting; my kids are pretty upset.”

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The Brandon School Division has since asked parents to remove the worksheet. Submitted/Grace Masse

Masse, who has six children, says her 10-year-old son found the math worksheet among a package of work assigned by his teacher to complete during two-weeks of homeschooling meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the Brandon School Division said no one from the division was available to speak about the worksheet, but did provide a statement.

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“This material is unacceptable and in direct conflict with the mission and vision of Brandon School Division,” the statement reads.

“Homeschooling materials were assembled from various sources and the Division deeply regrets that the unacceptable material was not identified and removed.”

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The division spokesperson went on to say letters were sent to parents apologizing and asking them to remove the worksheet from students’ packages.

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“Once the material was brought to the Division’s attention, immediate action was taken to remove the offensive content, and to review all homeschool packages to ensure no other unacceptable content was contained therein,” the division said.

In addition to our deep regret, this error reinforces the need for our continued learning, commitment and action towards reconciliation and Indigenous education.”

For Masse, who says she didn’t personally see an email from the division but did hear about it from another parent, the apology comes too late.

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She says she is now looking into filing a human rights complaint over the worksheet.

“If something is not done, then we’ll just keep getting ‘sorries’ all the time, which is not fair and doesn’t teach Indigenous children that they’re equal or just as important as everyone else,” she said.

“I’m not satisfied with apologies anymore, actions need to be taken.”

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