We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021NOT STARTED
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021NOT STARTED

Why “Not Started”?

The four Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement and other Faith based organizations have made concrete commitments to advancing reconciliation with some funding commitments but nothing “mandatory” from governments on requiring denominational schools to include teachings on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices..

Government Responses

Three provinces – Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta – still constitutionally require funding for Catholic schools. Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec obtained constitutional amendments to replace their faith-based school boards with linguistic, secular ones in the 1990s.

Government Positions on Denominational Schools and Curriculum

British Columbia
All faith-based schools in B.C. follow the B.C. curriculum, which includes specific aspect and references to Indigenous cultures, languages, history, and spirituality. Post-secondary institutions govern their own programs and content and cover in pre-service teacher education programs that addresses education on Indigenous histories and cultures.

Nothing specific about Indigenous spirituality.

Curriculum Development for Indigenous History and Culture: In 2007, mandatory Treaty Education was introduced in publicly-funded Saskatchewan Schools. The goal is that by the end of Grade 12, students will understand that Treaty relationships are based on a deep understanding of peoples’ identity which encompasses: languages, ceremonies, world-views, and relationship to place and the land.

Manitoba has a separate system but opted out in 1870

As of September 2015, Ontario’s Faculties of Education are required to provide mandatory content that includes First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories, cultures, perspectives and ways of knowing

Quebec did have a separate Catholic school system but opted out in 1997

New Brunswick
Nothing specific on Indigenous spirituality

Nova Scotia
Nothing specific on Indigenous spirituality

Prince Edward Island
Nothing specific on Indigenous spirituality

Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador had a separate catholic school system but opted out in 1998

Directive on Aboriginal Language and Cultural Base Education: In the Religious Studies Program Aboriginal Content is addressed through topics such as the developing an appreciation to the interconnectedness of all creation and an in- depth examination of Aboriginal beliefs systems, spirituality; symbols and rituals and the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the Moravian Missionaries.

Yukon funds catholic schools but only to Grade 9.

Development for Indigenous History and Culture:  The actions the Department of Education in Yukon is taking in changing curriculum to include mandatory education on FNMI histories and cultures, particularly in response to the report of the TRC is the mandatory implementation of the Grade 10 Indian Residential School Unit. All students enrolled in Social Studies 10 are required to take part in the IRS Unit. It is also mandatory that all teachers teaching the unit participate in a two-day training session facilitated by First Nations Programs and Partnerships prior to teaching the IRS Unit. In the New Year we will have a group of teachers and department personnel working with our Curriculum Working Group (Elders we collaborate with as we work towards Yukon First Nations content in curricula) to create a Science First Peoples Unit for grade 5 to 8 students.

Northwest Territories
Territorial Government Initiatives: Directive on Aboriginal Language and Cultural Base Education: The 2004 ALCBE Ministerial Directive identified that all NWT educators infuse ALCBE into their daily teaching following either foundation curricula: Dene Kede or Inuuqatigiit. NWT schools incorporate Aboriginal language and culture-based activities to explore the languages, histories, activities, skills, knowledge, traditions and values of Aboriginal peoples

Nothing specific on Indigenous spirituality

Church Responses to Teaching Indigenous Spirituality

Response of the Churches to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: June 2, 2015

The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada and the Jesuits of English Canada make the following statement in response to the findings and Calls to Action  issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:

We acknowledge and welcome the specific calls to action that offer direction to the churches in our continuing commitment to reconciliation. In particular, we are committed to respect Indigenous spiritual traditions in their own right. As individual churches and in shared interfaith and ecumenical initiatives – for example through Kairos, through interfaith groups, and through the Canadian Council of Churches – we will continue to foster learning about and awareness of the reality and legacy of the residential schools, the negative impact of such past teachings as the Doctrine of Discovery, and the new ways forward found in places, such as  the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  We will continue our commitment to financial support for community-controlled initiatives in healing, language and cultural revitalization, education and relationship-building, and self-determination.

Canadian Council of Churches

Expression of Reconciliation
We commit to respect the right and freedom of Indigenous communities to practise traditional spirituality and teachings

We commit to value the gifts of Indigenous traditional teachings in Christian worship and pastoral practices, where appropriate, in consultation with your elders.

Faith Today: Your online guide to church responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report


Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for Call to Action 64.