The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), is implementing a new graduation requirement that will come into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
The government has announced that all secondary students across British Columbia will be required to complete Indigenous-focused coursework before they graduate from B.C.’s K-12 education system.
This coming Monday, March 7, the Ministry of Education will be launching an online public engagement to gain feedback on the proposed approach to implementing the new graduation requirement, including what related information and resources students, parents and schools may need.
The proposed model allows students to meet the new requirement through a variety of existing and new course options, according to the government.
“We are deeply committed to lasting and meaningful reconciliation in B.C. – guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while working co-operatively with Indigenous Peoples across the province to address the knowledge gaps in our K-12 curriculum,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.” This new requirement will deepen students’ understanding of the experiences, cultures, histories and knowledges of Indigenous Peoples. This will help us to understand the truths of our shared history, while also building knowledge so all students feel a sense of responsibility for our collective future.”
The ministry will also consult with Indigenous communities and K-12 partners throughout the spring and the FNESC will facilitate information sharing with First Nations.
“For many years, FNESC, First Nations and our partners in the public education system have advocated for this important change to the B.C. graduation program,” said FNESC president Tyrone McNeil. “Building awareness and understanding of First Peoples’ perspectives, cultures and histories among all B.C. students will serve as an important step toward reconciliation and an effective strategy to combat racism within the province to the benefit of all British Columbians.”
Under the proposed model, students who are currently in Grade 10 would be the first group to complete this new requirement, starting in September 2023.
The new requirement will apply to all students in B.C. public, independent and offshore schools.
The government notes that B.C. is the first Canadian province/jurisdiction to implement this type of requirement.