An Indigenous leader from Edmonton is expressing outrage over an offensive social media post about residential school children.
“How dare he, how dare he think these children were having fun at a playground,” Elder Taz Augustine said.
The social media post shared Wednesday by history journal The Dorchester Review shows residential school children smiling at a playground.
The post reads, “‘They were put through hell’ and yet they are having an absolute blast on that play structure. What gives?”
But Augustine said what these children went through was far from fun.
“Any picture can be altered, any picture can be postured where the children are placed in such a position and they can be told and demanded to smile. Any child can be told that because in those schools if they didn’t do what they were told, some of them were killed,” he said.
Chris Champion is the editor at the Dorchester Review and had a key role in writing the social studies portion of Alberta’s K-6 draft curriculum, which has been widely criticized for its inaccuracies and lack of representation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.
“It’s disgusting that this person was put in charge of drafting curriculum for children when clearly his views are so inappropriate. This is one of the reasons why the curriculum needs to be pulled,” NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman said.
The majority of the Alberta school boards have said they will not pilot the controversial curriculum in classrooms this fall.
Minister of Education press secretary Nicole Sparrow responded to the tweet in a statement to Global News:
“Alberta Education categorically denounces what was written in the tweet by the Dorchester Review. To make light of the horrors children faced in residential schools is not only appalling, it is harmful to survivors and their families,” Sparrow wrote.
“The forcible removal of indigenous children from their homes to residential schools is a dark, deplorable part of Canada’s history — which is exactly why, for the first time, the new draft curriculum will teach students about residential schools, Truth and Reconciliation and ensure students learn First Nations, Métis and Inuit content in every single grade. Students will also study accounts from residential school survivors, like former Grandchief Wilton Littlechild.
“No one individual authored the draft curriculum. It was developed in conjunction with academics, stakeholders, and teachers themselves. Mr. Champion’s role with Alberta Education ended last fall with the planned expiration of his contract.”
Augustine said Champion should have no involvement in writing a curriculum relating to what occurred in residential schools.
Augustine added The Dorchester Review’s post was beyond disrespectful, particularly after the discovery of the human remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“(It) definitely opens the wound even more. We’re grieving, we’re a nation of people grieving across the land,” he said.