We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:

  1. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.
  2. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms
  3. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.                      
  4. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusSept. 5, 2021STALLED
Previous StatusJune 14, 2021STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

A poll released by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data on June 15, 2021 shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system.

  • 62 percent of Canadians believe that provincial education curricula do not include nearly enough about residential schools,
  • 65 percent believe the level of education around residential schools should increase.
  • 70 percent of survey respondents say that the framing of residential schools has been downplayed in the education system.

Curriculum advisors in Alberta are recommending that all references to residential schools and “equity” be eliminated in the Kindergarten-to-Grade 4 curriculum, a move that education experts call regressive, racist and unsupported by research (Oct. 2020). In addition, the Métis Nation of Alberta cites “monumental concerns about the Euro-American colonial undertones in the proposed K-6 curriculum.” Ontario has also reneged on the initial commitment by the previous Liberal government to revise the curriculum to include mandatory Indigenous content. The content is now optional.

The government of Canada is working with the Council of Ministers of Education to enhance knowledge and awareness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis history and culture across Canada and to enhance the knowledge and awareness of teachers, students and school leaders on the history and culture of Indigenous peoples. The response also focuses on investments in First Nations education. Specific status updates are as follows:

  1. Multiple initiatives in all provinces and territories on mandatory K-12 curriculum development to integrate Indigenous history and culture; Ontario has made this C2A optional.
  2. funding established for teacher training to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods;
  3. funding to Indigenous schools is inconsistent (new First Nation Education agreements have been signed)
  4. minimal commitment to appointing senior-level positions in government to Indigenous Education
Canadian Teachers Federation

Founded in 1920, the CTF is a national alliance of provincial and territorial Member organizations that represent nearly 231,000 teachers across Canada. CTF is also a member of the 32-million member Education International. @CanTeachersFed

Dec. 15, 2015 – CTF invites Canadian teachers to learn, generate dialogue and nurture a better understanding of the impact of residential schools in classrooms across the country,” says the CTF President.

Smith points to one recent resource Speak Truth to Power Canada (STTP), a website about Canadian human rights defenders and their achievements. Jointly developed by the CTF, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Assembly of First NationsInuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, STTP includes lesson plans and classroom activities that align with provincial and territorial curricula.

Recommended sections relevant to the TRC report (available in English and French as well as in the Indigenous language chosen by the featured defender, notably Cree, Mohawk or Inuktitut) are:

The CTF and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Centre are also collaborating on the production of a student voice discussion booklet and lesson plans on Truth and Reconciliation which will be released on National Aboriginal Day 2016.

Nov. 16, 2016 – The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) are proud to launch a new teacher resource that aims to educate students across the country about residential schools and set them on the path to reconciliation.

The goal of the new resource, Truth and Reconciliation: What is it about?, are: to increase student knowledge, foster understanding, and promote social action by youth that will lead to positive change in society. This new resource includes firsthand accounts from students expressed through words, thoughts, drawings and poems.

Kairos Education for Reconciliation Report Card – Sept., 2018

KAIROS is a joint venture ecumenical program administered by the United Church of Canada.  Ten participating member denominations and religious organizations are involved in the development and delivery of our shared work.

Council of Ministers of Education

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education to serve as: 

  • a forum to discuss policy issues;
  • a mechanism through which to undertake activities, projects, and initiatives in areas of mutual interest;
  • a means by which to consult and cooperate with national education organizations and the federal government; and
  • an instrument to represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally.

CMEC provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. All 13 provinces and territories are members.

Aboriginal Education Plan 2015 – 2017

The CMEC Aboriginal Education Plan 2015–2017 includes work in the four specific areas listed below:

  • Supporting the professional development of Aboriginal students interested in pursuing teaching as a career: considering teacher-training needs, sharing knowledge, and initiating dialogue among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal educators. 
  • Developing curriculum and teaching resources focused on Canadian history and the legacy of Indian Residential Schools for use in Bachelor of Education and teacher-education programs across Canada. 
  • Sharing resources and promising practices in Aboriginal education. 
  • Continuing to promote and encourage the development of resources that address the legacy and history of Indian Residential Schools within all K–12 education systems in Canada.

Aboriginal Education Plan 2019 – 2022

CMEC 2019–22 has been designed with a goal to provide a more coordinated, strategic approach for provincial and territorial ministers responsible for education to work together to improve Indigenous education outcomes for all learners.

Priority Area # 1 – Supporting Indigenous student success and well‐being in education

  • Objectives: To engage with the topic of Indigenous student success and well-being to foster innovative and culturally relevant learning environments that focus on inclusive growth and the well-being of Indigenous students
  • Key Actions and Deliverables: Report on developments in the area of mental health and wellness, culturally relevant spaces, or other topics relevant to Indigenous student success

Priority Area # 2 – Mobilizing and disseminating provincial/territorial and international successful practices and proven actions to improve Indigenous education

  • Objectives: To advance the work of reconciliation in Canada for the benefit of both Indigenous and non- Indigenous students, as well as for all education stakeholders, and to support successes in learning outcomes by mobilizing information related to best practices in education, such as policy, curricula, pedagogies, and data.
  • Key Actions and Deliverables: Identify and mobilize information on promising practices, trends, and research in multiple thematic areas of Indigenous education, as identified by provinces and territories Assess the funding of and related governance and landscape for Indigenous postsecondary institutions in Canada Remain abreast of emerging K–12 and PSE Indigenous education initiatives Share responses to the TRCC’s education-related CTA

Priority Area # 3 – Teaching excellence in Indigenous education

  • Objectives: To improve culturally relevant and responsive pedagogical knowledge, practices, and strategies to support learners in accessing and meeting curricular expectations
  • Key Actions and Deliverables: Host a pan-Canadian symposium on Indigenizing education

Priority # 4 – Revitalizing Indigenous languages and strengthening Indigenous culture and identity through education

  • Objectives: To highlight advancements occurring within Indigenous-language revitalization to increase levels of intercultural competency as foundational to the improvement of education outcomes for all
  • Key Actions and Deliverables: Report on Indigenous – language education initiatives Host an event for ministers, deputy ministers, and officials that celebrates and facilitates an awareness for Indigeneity (e.g., place, land, Indigenous issues, and Indigenous knowledge)

https://www.cmec.ca/docs/108CMEC B.2 CMEC Indigenous Education Plan 2019-22 APP1 EN POSTED 2019.07.15.pd

For an overview of K to 12 operating expenditures in 2016-2017, click here.

Provincial and Territorial Government Commitments to Senior Positions for Indigenous Education

To date, only BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and the Yukon have addressed this Call to Action

British Columbia

The Assistant Deputy Minister, Learning Division, and the Executive Lead, Learning Transformation Division, who is responsible for the learning modernization project, share the responsibility of ensuring that Aboriginal content is embedded in all curriculum.


Alberta Education is creating a new Assistant Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Learning to provide a focal point within the ministry and government for implementing First Nations, Métis and Inuit education policies, programs and initiatives to ensure that work with partners – school jurisdictions, parents and communities – is well-aligned and continues to take a coordinated and collaborative approach to First Nations, Métis and Inuit education in the province.


Mar. 15, 2016 – Will appoint a Minister responsible for Reconciliation to lead an Executive Council whose members promote measures to advance reconciliation through the work of the member’s department and across government


Aug. 25, 2017 – Appointed Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, Senior Project Manager, Guiding Directions Implementation, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; ceremonial leader, educator, teacher of Indigenous spiritual ways and healer to help guide transformation in the publicly funded education system in Indigenous education, providing direct counsel to the Premier, Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for Early Years and Child Care and Ministry of Education.


Feb. 1, 2019 – The Government of Yukon and the Council of Yukon First Nations’ Chiefs’ Committee on Education are working together to establish a new assistant deputy minister (ADM) of First Nations Initiatives position within the Department of Education. The new ADM will work to establish effective partnerships with Yukon First Nations and implement initiatives supporting the success of First Nations learners. The senior management position will have a critical role as part of the department’s Executive Management Team and will be responsible for the management and direction of First Nations initiatives within the department, which includes the department’s First Nations Programs and Partnerships program area.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is working with the Council of Ministers of Education to enhance knowledge and awareness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis history and culture across Canada and to enhance the knowledge and awareness of teachers, students and school leaders on the history and culture of Indigenous peoples.

Further, Budget 2016 invested $275 million in language and culture until fiscal year 2020 to 2021. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is also working with First Nations partners to transform First Nations elementary and secondary education on reserve, which will include new funding formulas that are enhanced with language and culture investments to meet the specific needs of Indigenous students.

Starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, ISC is contributing $3 million per year, for 3 years, to the First Nations University of Canada to develop a National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education. The national centre will serve as an informational resource base for reconciliation and will focus on the growing needs of students, educators and the various policy and other decision makers involved in Indigenous kindergarten to grade 12 education in Canada.

This response hasn’t changed since March 2018.