FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has signed a memorandum of understanding with seven First Nation communities respecting First Nations education and the calls to action as set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“Your government supports the promotion of First Nations perspectives, language, history and culture in our provincial curriculum,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “This memorandum of understanding means we will continue to work toward achieving our goals through a sharing of resources and expertise.”

The memorandum recognizes that First Nations have a right to practise their language and culture, and to fully participate socially and economically in society without discrimination or prejudice. It also recognizes that the calls to action as set out by the commission have been accepted by Canada’s premiers through the Council of the Federation, and also by the federal government.

The provincial government and Three Nations Education Group (representing Tobique, Elsipogtog and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations), Madawaska First Nation, Kingsclear First Nation, Oromocto First Nation, and St. Mary’s First Nation will partner to develop and promote First Nations curriculum and learning opportunities to contribute to the goal of reconciliation.

“We are pleased to partner with the Province of New Brunswick in this initiative to continue including treaty education into the curriculum,” said Warren Tremblay, executive director of Three Nations Education Group. “This will contribute to honouring the calls to action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

First Nations history and culture is currently taught as part of various subjects in all schools. All parties included in this memorandum will collaborate to ensure the continued implementation of First Nations culture, history and perspectives into age-appropriate curriculum for students in kindergarten through Grade 12. This includes developing learning modules on the Peace and Friendship Treaties; the legacy of residential schools; the history and culture of First Nations people, including the history of Crown-First Nations relationships; the legal and constitutional position of First Nations people in New Brunswick; and aboriginal rights and the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Ongoing professional development for education staff will continue, as well.

“Our province is truly fortunate for the presence of our Maliseet and Mi’kmaq communities whose unique histories, traditions and beliefs continue to enrich our culture and contribute to our diversity and quality of life,” said Service New Brunswick Minister Ed Doherty, who is also the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs. “When we learn together, we grow together. This agreement on education will encourage reconciliation and pride in First Nations ancestry, while ensuring that knowledge and understanding of the First Nations legacy is shared and appreciated for generations to come.”

All parties will report annually on progress achieved under the memorandum.

The government’s 10-year education plans aim to improve educational outcomes and better prepare young people for the future. They set objectives in priority areas to create lifelong learners, support educational leaders and bring stability to the system. One of the objectives in the plans is to meet the needs of First Nations learners and ensure that provincial curriculum reflects First Nations history and culture.